LAST TIME, ON DRAGON SLAYER QUESTYour name is Noah Lee - straight C+ student, scrawny runt, and lover of old ballroom dance vinyls. After a chance encounter during detention, you discovered that you possess the mystical "Type O-alpha" blood-type, which marks you as...Monster bait. No cool powers. No "chosen one" status. But apparently, if you bleed around the wrong people, they will explode into gigantic, reality-warping monsters known as "Dragons" and immediately try to kill you. Silver lining! Surviving a Dragon attack gave you magic powers - "Alchemy", the ability to enforce your intent on the world and reshape matter and energy, at the cost of some blood and calories.After a fraught encounter with your teacher, who burst into a Dragon and attempted to kill you, you were saved by Kendra Shields (call her Ken), a gruff, battle-worn two-star Slayer for the Fraternal Order Of Dragon Slayers (FOODS). After being taken to the local FOODS chapter (located in a re-appropriated community center) so you could be healed of petrifying venom, you also met Dr. Rick Hyde, a one-star Slayer, class clown, jackass, and regular patch-you-upper. After some discussion, you decided to let Ken train you in alchemy and self-defense against Dragons, although you haven't yet committed to actually joining FOODS.The next day, you met with Josh, a popular sportsball player at school that somehow is your friend (and, less understandably, your only friend), who invited you to a party at his house on Friday while his parents were out doing parent stuff. Before you could talk more, the two of you were interrupted by Ken, who showed up to drag you along on a Dragon hunt so you could watch. After coming up with a pretty decent excuse for Josh, it was off to the races.Ken, and another Slayer named Abigail Eriksdotter, both fought to kill an Orthrus-type Dragon (and along the way, Ken taught you a little bit about their internal categorization system for Dragons). While Abigail tended to the wounded person being targeted by the Dragon, Ken was delegated to the task of beating it to death with her sledgehammer, which she did - but not before using up all her energy through alchemy and collapsing on the ground. Moving as fast as you could when you noticed the nearly dead dragon's tail preparing to strike, you interdicted between the two, summoning five dirt walls in seconds in order to prevent it from skewering her, taking a pretty nasty stab in the chest in return.After getting resuscitated by Dr. Hyde again, Ken stormed off, apparently mad that you saved her. You spent some time discussing the fundamentals of alchemy with Abigail, and then left once your mom told you to come home.Then, you were held hostage.
>>4505648A Dragon, dubbing themselves Saint, put a gun to your back and asked you questions about Dragons, what you knew, why it wanted to hunt you, and why "she" couldn't see them anymore. Satisfied with your answers, they told you that they regretted their actions, but weren't planning on stopping, and that you shouldn't either, before flying off.Later, while training at FOODS after school, you told them about Saint. Apparently, it's odd but not unheard of for a two-star Dragon to try and reclaim their past life, but one not trying to immediately eat you was a bit strange. You spent the rest of the week after school training at FOODS, getting stronger and better at alchemy, although you're still a bit of a small fry in all categories.Then, finally, came the party. Josh introduced you to a mousey girl with a rough voice and eclectic music taste named Rebecca, and the two of you absconded to the porch to avoid most of the noise. After getting to know each other a bit more, she introduced you to an odd band named "The Caretaker", and then the two of you hid beneath the porch out of the sight of the rest of the partygoers so that you could slow dance to headphone music.Eventually, Rebecca asked you to kiss her. After some initial shyness, and a little but of instruction from her, you evidently kissed her to her satisfaction, but she concluded that you needed some more training. Afterwards, Josh happened upon the two of you to warn you about upcoming inclement weather - confusing the both of you, since neither of you have heard any of the thunder that Josh was describing. Once Josh compared it to fireworks, though, one of the main tools of Ken, everything clicked into place and the mild panic begun.
>>4505649"Might cause a blackout soon. Maybe you should find some flashlights so we're not partying in the dark." You suggest to Josh, who nods thoughtfully."Good idea. I'll get right on that." He responds."While you do that, I'm gonna call some friends around here, see if they know anything about a storm." You say. Josh says something as he walks up the porch steps, but you don't catch it, too busy dialing numbers on your phone rapidly. Rebecca holds onto your free hand, squeezing it somewhat tightly.Ken's number. Click. Straight to voicemail.Abigail's number. Click. Straight to voicemail.Dr. Hyde's number.Ring.Ring.Ring.click "Hello?""Hey, Doc, it's Noah. You wouldn't happen to know of any bad weather at, around, 30 Washington Circle?" You ask, quietly, keeping your phone volume low so Rebecca can't eavesdrop."Bad weather? Are you like... speaking in code? It's a beautiful night out, man." Dr. Hyde replies. You resist the urge to thump your head against something."Yeah. Bad weather. You hearing me right?" You ask."Yeah, yeah, "bad weather", I gotcha. 30th and Washington, right? That's... downtown?" He replies, his voice containing bare edges of tiredness."No, 30 Washington Circle. Suburbs. Northeast.""30 Washington Circle... I mean, weather dot com doesn't-""HYDE! Is Ken there?" You interrupt, a little sick of his antics. You can hear him jump and almost fumble the phone through his end of the speakers."Ken? No, she's... You know what? Let me go grab Dispatch real quick. They should know more about the weather than I do, I'm just the bandage guy."There's about two minutes of heart-stopping silence, accompanied only by the speakerphone sounds of Dr. Hyde's shoes on the linoleum floor, before his line goes muted. Then, it comes back."Noah. I don't want you to panic, but I know you're, like, 16, so that might be in your first instincts. There is a two-star Wyvern type spotted directly in your area. Dispatch has a squad out to corral it. If it finds you, you are not skilled enough to do anything other than get hurt." For once, you hear something other than snark in his voice. Instead, it's a flat, blunt note of genuine concern. Coming off someone like Dr. Hyde, it's incredibly disquieting. "It will kill you, given the opportunity. You need to hide.">"I'm... actually at a party with some friends. Should I do anything in particular so they don't get wet?" [Concerned]>You need to leave . There are too many people around and you being here is putting them at risk of getting hurt. "Right, should I head home so I'm by myself?" [Self-Sacrificing]>"Right. Gotcha. Thanks for letting me know, Doc." [Blunt]>"Right. Gotcha. Thanks for letting me know, Doc." Lie to him and start pre-emptively preparing to fight. You aren't going to go find it, but you don't wanna be caught on the back foot in case it finds you. [Brave]>Free Option
>>4505651>"I'm... actually at a party with some friends. Should I do anything in particular so they don't get wet?" [Concerned]
>>4505651>"I'm... actually at a party with some friends. Should I do anything in particular so they don't get wet?" [Concerned]Minimizing casualties if this thing catches our scent is a priority. It probably won't, two-stars are supposed to be smarter than one-stars so it should be focusing on the hunters trying to kill it and not some random O-alpha blooded kid it smells. But let's take precautions just in case it confuses us for one of its opponents and doesn't realize that if we were trying to hunt it, why would we be hanging out in a party?Also, welcome back, Richard. Nice to have you running. If it's alright to ask, how is your friend doing?
>>4505651>"Right. Gotcha. Thanks for letting me know, Doc." [Blunt]
Josh is definitely inoculated somehow. We need to get him away from here.
>>4505651>You need to leave . There are too many people around and you being here is putting them at risk of getting hurt. "Right, should I head home so I'm by myself?" [Self-Sacrificing]
>>4505822They saved the limb thankfully but they’ll probably have nerve damage for a while, possibly permanently and the bill is predictably obscene because we live in a functioning society.
>>4505915Well, it's better than it could be, if far from ideal. I'm glad to hear the limb could be saved, at least.
>>4505651>"I'm... actually at a party with some friends. Should I do anything in particular so they don't get wet?" [Concerned](should we mention Josh?) >>4505915On one hand glad to hear that it's not worst case scenario, on the other oof.
>>4505718>>4505817>>4505822>>4506570"I'm... actually at a party with some friends. Should I do anything in particular so they don't get wet?" You ask, trying hard to maintain some sort of facade of plausible deniability so that you don't freak out your new friend-that-you-kiss sitting next to you.You can almost hear Dr. Hyde's heart stopping in the way that his voice goes clenched and tinny. "Oh, Jesus. Look, kid, do you want the nice guy answer or the pragmatic answer?""Pragmatic." You respond. You can hear Rebecca make a small noise at your incongruous response to an innocent conversation about inclement weather."If it comes for you specifically, run so that it'll kill you alone, get bored, eat your corpse, and then leave. That's the pragmatic response.""And the nice guy one?" You ask, squeezing Rebecca's hand a little tighter."Get in a closet, in the basement, put your head between your ankles, and pray." Dr. Hyde answers quietly.Rebecca leans on you silently.>Consider the pragmatic option. [Self-Sacrificing]>Consider the nice guy option. [Reckless]>Both of those options suck. Pitch a third one. (Free Option)>Free Option.
>>4506678>>Both of those options suck. Pitch a third one. ("Right. Gotcha. Thanks for letting me know, Doc." Start pre-emptively preparing to fight. You aren't going to go find it, but you don't wanna be caught on the back foot in case it finds you. [Brave])
>>4506678>Both of those options suck. Pitch a third one. >Get the hell away preemptively so that the Dragon never happens upon us. Head away from the city.
Bonus art - have a completed Orthrus-type One-star sketch.
>>4507024That's one ugly fucker. Look at his smug punchable faces.
>>4507024>filenameOh shit, what up
>>4506678Supporting >>4506913 with the addition of>Tell Jake and Rebecca that we're sorry, but we might have to leave soon. Hopefully not, but a friend of ours from the community center is having trouble and they might need us to head over and help.Just so that if we have to venom up they won't think we bailed out of nowhere.
>>4506678>Consider running the hell away immediately, don't wait around.>Complain about the place being far away or something, then take enough time to get Rebecca's number so it looks like things are cool.
>>4507120Yes, this, definitely get Rebecca's number. No matter what vote wins, we might wind up ceasing to exist to human perceptions for a while and we want to make sure to get her number while we're still visible.
>>4506913>>4506999>>4507053"Right. Got it. I'll... figure something out. Thanks for letting me know, Doc." You reply, already picking yourself up from the ground. Rebecca follows closely behind, still holding onto your hand lightly, although she lets go once you get to your feet."Don't do anything stupid, kid. Not just because dealing with a Three-star is a headache, but I also think you're pretty funny and I don't want you to die." Dr. Hyde replies."I don't either." You say, and then hang up."What was that all about?" Rebecca asks, looking at you with a quirked eyebrow. You pass her your phone, contacts menu already open."I'm probably going to have to bounce soon - hopefully not, but there's something happening nearby that might need my attention. Mind plopping your number in?" You ask. She chuckles, shaking her head gently as she does just that."Sure thing, Casanova." She says, handing you your phone back. You pocket it as the hair on the back of your neck stands on end.You've been training for almost a week now in the science of alchemy, and there's one thing that you've noticed that nobody else has pointed out to you yet. Then again, you never asked directly. Whenever someone does alchemy around you, you can feel the air go still and electric, like it's suddenly stagnating, and the decelerating particles are bumping into your head. You know that's probably not what's actually happening, but that's how your brain envisions it.The air feels like glass. You were too caught up in teenage feelgoods to notice, but it's there, and it's been like this for a while.boom--You hear it, in the distance.Boom--Getting closer.Fireworks. Rebecca winces at the sound. "What the hell - that's not thunder, is it?"You look at her, mildly confused yourself, shrugging. Are Josh and Rebecca both already inoculated? Or did someone forget to envenom themselves? You round the patio stairs, Rebecca following closely behind, and squeeze your way through the mire of partygoers. The music is no longer as enthusiastic, no longer as crazy, and the air is coated with the thick, acrid scent of weed smoke, but finding Josh isn't too hard, talking up some girl and some guy in the kitchen."You guys hear that?" You ask, at the sound of another crackling boom in the distance. Just to confirm your suspicions. They all nod and make idle chatter about the noise, but you tune it out - you only needed the background characters for that much. You feel like there's no way that this many people are inoculated, which means that someone - Ken -, is without her venom. A minute more of aimless eavesdropping and you nudge Josh in the side."I might have to bounce soon. Just got off the phone with one of my friends and he might need me pretty urgently, it's a weird night." You say, looking down at your feet. Josh tousles your hair and you faux-grumpily comb it back into place with your fingers.
>>4508402"No problem, man. Take a beer for the road." He says, popping the fridge open. Rebecca leans in and pops a kiss on your cheek before disappearing into the crowd, and before you can say or do much about it.The air stiffens. Boom---->Rummage through the fridge for anything that might be remotely useful for alchemy.[Resourceful]>Try to steal some silverware when Josh isn't in the room anymore. [Sly]>Go without. The world around you has all you need. [Reckless]>Free OptionADDITIONALLY>Prepare to leave to go towards the trouble.>Get ready for the trouble to come towards you.
>>4508405>Rummage through the fridge for anything that might be remotely useful for alchemy.[Resourceful]>Leave to go AWAY from the trouble as quickly as possible.All we could do against a one-star was to be a meatshield. This is apparently a three-star.Now you might think "This just means the QM will write a cool and dramatic fight!" But you know what else is dramatic? Being the reason of a freind's death because said friend had to protect you when you poked your nose where you shouldn't. A good plot beat, that one.
>>4508405>Rummage through the fridge for anything that might be remotely useful for alchemy.[Resourceful]>Free Option>While we're at it, drink a glass of juice or something. Alchemy burns calories, let's raise our blood sugar some. >Get ready for the trouble to come towards you.We're not going to be able to kill the dragon, rushing in to assist in the fight is a bad idea. What we want to do is a fighting retreat, laying down obstacles and traps as we run in order to both hinder the dragon long enough for the FOODS agents to catch up and annoy it enough to keep chasing us away from the party.>>4508431It's a two-star, Hyde's comment was that he doesn't want the dragon to eat us and get powered up by our O-alpha blood to help it progress along the stages to three-star. Still well outside our ability to fight, though. Run while making obstacles is our best shot.
>>4508405>Get something dense to eat>Grab a small dense spoon, enough to cover an arm or hand>Go away from the trouble, numbnuts
>>4508405Fighting upfront is not an option, not with the amount of training we have, but I get the feeling that running away isn't going to be one either.>Rummage through the fridge Get some calories right now, juice or fruit will do nice, then take one or two cans of beer to go. Through alchemy we can most likely turn them into pressurized bombs, increase the level of alcohol to toxic levels or something similar.>Start going where the collateral damage can be minimized once the dragon inevitably catches up with us.Either a parking lot, a park, a waste-yard or something among those lines.
>>4508405Would we know if our friend owns a bicycle?
>>4508687>>4508453>>4508431>>4508437You rummage through Josh's fridge for some food, not asking permission before you shovel some snacks down your gullet. Josh looks at you with a raised eyebrow but doesn't make much of it - it's not like you haven't wordlessly stolen snacks from him before. "Thanks. I'll take one." You say, grabbing a beer can and popping it in your pocket. He nods, gives you a thumb on the shoulder, and leaves the room to go deal with other partygoers. When the coast is clear enough, you nick a spoon and slide it into your other pocket.Boom--------There. Everything in order. Time to get the hell out of dodge. You slip out through Josh's garage, taking a deep breath of the stiff, static air. You've heard people mention things about the feeling you get before getting hit by lightning - the way it makes the hairs on back of your neck stand up, the way the air crinkles and creases.It feels a bit like that.The noises get closer. You begin making your way outwards, away from the suburbs and towards somewhere with less collateral damage. You spend 15 agonizing minutes, the noises getting less frequent, but louder, trekking to a nearby parking lot - at this point in the night, thankfully, the store itself is closed and all the cars are cleared out. You find yourself a dumpster and hide behind it, your heart thumping in your chest.Boom-----BOOM--------BO- Your head splits into a pounding fury as a load roar overtakes your eardrums, ripping through your senses, filling the world with white sound and your vision with noise. You almost get tossed ass-over-ankles, spending a good minute or so just regaining your hearing and vision, as the sounds of violence hit you first, followed by the sights.Ken bounces backwards on her heels, flicking herself away from the advancing figure. Four other Dragon slayers flank her, with a lone figure dressed in white kneeling on the other side of the parking lot. Between the two of them, a dark, navy blue Dragon squats, craning its neck to ascertain the situation.
>>4509909Crackling liquid fire drips from between the Dragon's serrated teeth, a flappy, almost jowl-like curtain of skin falling over either side of its rounded, tightly-fit snout, giving it an appearance almost like a drunk cobra, complete with long, sinuous neck. No arms on this one, only two huge, imposing bat-like wings, a deep red-maroon membrane stretching between it. All things considered, the whiplike tail seems almost uninteresting, gently cracking back and forth - at least there's no knife on it. Zygodactyl talons, each one looking big enough to probably crunch a bike, plant themselves firmly into the ground, and a thick layer of shark-like, rough-looking scales envelopes the whole affair."Leave...!" The Dragon hisses, drooling its fire across the asphalt. "Need... Can't... eat...!"Already, several pockmarks, cuts, gouges, and other such injuries riddle the Dragon's body, although not nearly as much as you'd assume for how long the fight must've been going on. It's been at least forty five minutes - surely they would've taken it down by now? Or were they just chasing it somewhere isolated?>Stay hidden and prepare to defend yourself. [Cautious]>Start laying down traps and fortifying your location the best you can, hopefully without being detected. [Sly]>Keep track of the figure in white. Something is... off about their posture. Why aren't they with the rest of the Slayers? [Curious]>Free Option/Phrase
>>4509910We don't want to spend too much blood, but the dumpster is more likely to kill us that protect us as is.>Start laying down traps and fortifying your location the best you can, hopefully without being detected. [Sly]>anchor the dumpster to the floor, giving it more coverage around you if the line of sight isn't too obvious.
>>4505648I'm a level 5 magic dwarf, I cast a spell and it kills everyone. I win
>>4509910>Keep track of the figure in white. Something is... off about their posture. Why aren't they with the rest of the Slayers? [Curious]
>>4509910>Keep track of the figure in white. Something is... off about their posture. Why aren't they with the rest of the Slayers? [Curious]Yeah, don't think we don't see you there, lurking around like an early-season Kamen Rider villain. I know how this works, you triggered a monster transformation so you can watch the protagonists fight it and gather some nebulous data on either them or the monster's performance.
>>4510121>>4510003>>4509995You keep your body as low to the ground as possible, lying down on the uncomfortable asphalt while watching the figure in white around the corner. The air stays still until it suddenly isn't, everyone bursting into action at once. There's far too much happening for you to keep track of it all at once, so you focus on the girl in white, as she dashes towards Ken, completely ignoring the Dragon.And Ken ignores the Dragon too, heading right for her. The rest of the slayers advance to push the two-star away, but as they get close, the girl in white turns on her heel and lunges, her sword suddenly extending several dozen feet, nearly skewering someone. She flicks her wrist and the metal bends and deforms like a cable, casting rays of light along the ground with far more intensity than something of its reflectiveness. Each crack of her sword fills the air with a thunder-like Boom--, almost like a firecracker, when it hits the ground, producing an eye-searing shower of sparks in the process.The Dragon, for what its worth, doesn't seem interested in a tussle despite presumably having several prime meals around it. It sniffs the air and starts backing away, continuing to drool along the ground, its oily saliva only smoldering for a second or two before extinguishing. The girl in white continues to guard the Dragon, bafflingly enough, the other Slayers recoiling from the gleaming light, covering their eyes in response, taking shallow cuts across their exposed skin when they're too busy recovering from the temporary blindness to defend themselves. Ken reaches back, the handle of her sledgehammer extending itself several times, far longer than any sledgehammer could reasonably be built, the head soaking up gravel and asphalt to reinforce the wood. Unlike the others, she projects her voice when she swings, and for the first time since you saw the fight start about 45 seconds ago, you actually hear someone."Get down!" She yells, swinging the sledgehammer over a ducking slayer and striking the girl in white in the side. She attempts to block with her sword, but the angular momentum of the immense hammer is far too much to overcome, denting the blade and ramming into the girl in white's ribs, sending her flying. She sails into a plastic lamppost, ripping it out of the ground as it sends her flipping over herself. She barely manages to land on her feet, using her sword to blunt her momentum. After knocking her away, Ken barely seems to care about her - and neither do any of the other slayers.
>>4510954The Dragon, meanwhile, continues to back away, clearly wary of turning its back on the group. A slayer has managed to circle around to its flank, and one of the other ones is clearly primed with a drawn compound bow, presumably in case it tries to escape vertically. "Won't... eat... for... her...!" It groans, gurgling. "Leave... me... alone...! Not... friend...! Will... find...">Don't lose track of the girl in white. Why was she defending the Dragon? She won't be able to get far with however many broken ribs Ken just gave her - you can tail her without being discovered. [Brave]>Just keep quiet. Don't blow it. It looks like the situation is covered for now anyway. [Cautious]>Free Option/Phrase
>>4510956Soooo if we start the bloodworks, will that tempt the dragon too far and cause it to rampage?>Just keep quiet. Don't blow it. It looks like the situation is covered for now anyway. [Cautious]
>>4510956>Don't lose track of the girl in white. Why was she defending the Dragon? She won't be able to get far with however many broken ribs Ken just gave her - you can tail her without being discovered. [Brave]
>>4510976Good question. Will it?
>>4510956Okay, sounds like the two-star doesn't want to be rampaging. I don't think we can expect to interrupt the fight and not have something awful happen, even if it was possible to calm it down. Someone would get hurt, possibly killed. Sorry, dragon, we'll just have to hope you go cleanly. >Don't lose track of the girl in white. Why was she defending the Dragon? She won't be able to get far with however many broken ribs Ken just gave her - you can tail her without being discovered. [Brave]What's her deal? When the dragon says "won't eat for her", does it mean that it won't obey her commands to eat or that it won't eat in order to obey her commands? Is it expressing defiance or loyalty?
>>4512955>>4511559>>4511216>>4511020>>4510983They can handle this - but right now, you're the only person who can track her without getting involved in the larger fight. You resist the urge to pop your thumb to silence your footsteps, instead slinking the best you can over past some bushes and onto the grass, where your footsteps will be muffled by the earth.The girl limps off quietly, clutching her side in pain. Behind you, you her the sounds of occasional combat, roared words, loud groans, but they lose cohesion in your head as you trail her, your attention more focused to remaining unheard.She stumbles along the side of the road, on the sidewalk, for a minute or two before taking a hard turn into the bushes and trees surrounding it, slipping between buildings. You follow her, at least until she stops at the back of a closed Dunkin Donuts, leaning against the wall and clutching her sides, letting out a loud groan of agony. "God damn mother fucking cunt shit fuck ass fuck shit fucker! Fucking Kendraaaa. Fuck! Shit fucker." She rambles on, letting off a stream of breathless profanities as the hair on the back of your neck stands up on end and the air stiffens. "Regrow.">Interrupt her, don't let her heal. Run her ragged. [Reckless]>Wait, you have no idea what's going on. Stay put and keep listening and trailing. [Sly]>Just walk out, say hello, and wrangle some information out of her. [Brave]>Free Option.
>>4513009>Wait between her and the slayers. If she gets up to fight again, trip her close enough to the slayers to alert them.Well, that's if she tries to be sneaky.
>>4513009Yeah, >>4513023 sounds good. Keeps us close enough to listen in if she continues to monologue, while ready to act if we need to.
>>4513009>>Wait, you have no idea what's going on. Stay put and keep listening and trailing. [Sly]I guess this is more or less what >>4513023suggested, so I'd back that.
>>4513420>>4513023>>4513097>>4513100At this point, the other slayers are probably a good 3, 4 minutes of walking away, she has a sword, and you do not. Assessing your options, you decide that the best thing you could do, if she gets back to the fight, is to trip her up and be as loud as possible to get the slayers' attention.You feel your hair stand up on end. "Show me." She says, and immediately you feel your heart jump down into your stomach. You press yourself against the wall, as flat as possible, hiding the best you can in the shade. There's a loud, metallic sound as the girl scrapes her sword against the ground, and you hear the noises of her shoes clacking against the asphalt.She scrapes her sword a couple more times. You hear the click of a phone being locked. "Look, whoever you are, you best leave well enough alone. Go home. Forget what you saw today, if you saw anything. Follow me back at your peril."Her voice doesn't sound as "in it" as you'd imagine, with a light drawl and a little waver to it.>Pretend you didn't hear anything. She's... probably talking about someone else. [Ditzy]>"Back? Back where?" [Curious]>Get angry at getting caught and silently beat yourself up a little bit. [Frustrated]>"Why were you protecting that Dragon?" [Curious]>"How do you know Ken?" [Curious]>"I'm not going to leave you alone. Not until you tell me what's going on." [Reckless]>You've still got a can of beer and a spoon... Can you do anything with that?>Free Option/Phrase
>>4514093>"Why were you protecting that Dragon?" [Curious]
>>4514093>"Oh, uh, thanks for not attacking me I guess. Here.">Throw her the can of beer and leave
>>4514093Backing >>4514148, offer her our can.
>>4514148+1 for beer bros
>>4514093>"Why were you protecting that Dragon?" [Curious]She's not acting too torn up about being driven off, so I doubt it was someone she cared about before it transformed. I also doubt she'll give us an answer, but might as well ask.
>>4514196>>4514172>>4514148"Oh, uh, thanks for not attacking me, I guess." You say, walking out with your hands up and behind your head. "Here, have this. I'm probably not gonna drink it."She looks at you in a funny way, her voice slightly muffled by her facemask as she makes a "Nh?" sort of noise. Her sword is brandished and pointed directly at you, but she watches closely as you reach into your pocket, pull out a still-cold can of beer, and toss it to her. She catches it with the flat of her sword, staring at it like it's a bomb ready to go off. You put your hands back up and start backing away."I'm gonna get going now." You say, getting ready to turn around and go back to... somewhere. Home, maybe? You'll figure it out.Before you can, though, "Wait.""Yeah?" You ask, hands still up.She narrows her eyes, her entire body ramrod stiff, not moving an inch besides her mouth. "You're that kid from the park, aren't you? The one who stopped that Orthrus-type from getting Ken."You remain silent."Look, I'm not gonna give you a speech or anything. Just... be careful of FOODS. It's not as safe as you'd think." She says, quietly withdrawing her blade to retrieve her can of beer.>"They saved my life. I trust them." [Loyal]>"What do you mean? Elaborate." [Curious]>Remain silent, leave. [Neutral]>Free Option/Phrase
>>4515006>"I mean, I've nearly died multiple times already, I wasn't really assuming." [Cautious]>"You got a pamphlet or something? I don't mind more homework." [Teasing]
>>4515006>"What do you mean? Elaborate." [Curious]
>>4515006>"They're all I got right now, and they've proven themselves more willing to share than some folks I know."
>>4515006>Nothing about this deal sounds safe, honestly.>But what do you mean?
>>4516504>>4516650>>4515681>>4515449>>4515303"What do you mean? Elaborate." You say, resisting the natural urge to fold your arms in front of you. You still want to look as nonthreatening as possible. "Nothing about this seems safe to begin with.""It isn't what you think it is. Maybe not the rank and file, the people just doing their jobs, but..." She pops a hole in the bottom of the beer can with the edge of her sword, forming it into a spike, and begins to shotgun it, lifting her mask up and over her eyes to expose her mouth. If you were feeling less charitable, you would consider taking advantage of this moment of weakness, but a: she has a sword, you don't, b: you're sort of curious as to what she has to say. "FOODS is run by profoundly wicked people. Not evil, but wicked. Ruthless, and well-hidden."You raise an eyebrow. "Can you tell me any more than vague spooky warnings?" You ask, unable to resist the urge. She adjusts her mask and chuckles."I didn't bring my books with me, otherwise I would. I'll just tell you that FOODS is not the only alchemical dynasty dealing with the Dragons, and that if you want to know more, you'll be back here tomorrow. Alone, 8 PM. Extend."She plunges her blade into the ground and the metal warps and bends before stiffening, carrying her upwards onto the roof, before retracting. She turns on her heel and starts preparing to depart. If you have any final comments, you don't have a ton of time to say them.>"I'll be there. Alone." [Honest]>"I'll be there. Alone." [Lie]>"Are you really going to unfurl the grand conspiracy to me behind a Dunkin Donuts?" [Snarky]>"Do you have a name, mystery woman?" [Curious]>"I'm tired of getting dragged into things, lady. Maybe if we cross paths again..." [Tired]>"I'll think about it." [Indecisive]>Remain silent. [Neutral]>Free Option/Phrase
>>4516750>"Do you have a name, mystery woman?" [Curious]Not sure if we should go, because she's still super sketchy. But eh, let's at least get her name so we can leave on polite terms.
>>4516750>Do you have a name, mystery woman? Not saying it out loud but still, behind a Dunkin Donuts? Of all places?
>>4516787They have decent coffee at least
>>4516750>"Do you have a name, mystery woman?" [Curious]
>>4516750>"Are you really going to unfurl the grand conspiracy to me behind a Dunkin Donuts?" [Snarky]
>>4516750>"Do you have a name, mystery woman?" [Curious]Kind of want to combine this with the snarky option for full sass mode.
>>4516750>>"I'll be there. Alone." [Honest]>>"Do you have a name, mystery woman?" [Curious]
>>4516789Fair. I was referring more to the fact that such a discussion would probably be conducted better in a more private location, rather than the back door of a franchised coffee shop or any fast food restaurant for that matter.
>>4516757>>4516787>>4516933>>4517046>>4517260"A Dunkin Don..." You start muttering, before figuring that you have better things to be spending your attention on. "Do you have a name, Mystery Woman?"She turns to you for a second, her eyes crinkled up in a way that you think might be some kind of grin. "Ronin." She says, before dashing off into the night. You're about to make a comment about her being some kind of weeaboo, but you don't think she'd hear you at this point if you did.You sit down on your ass and sigh. The night is late, the Dunkin Donuts closed, you're sort of in the middle of nowhere - a vaguely familiar nowhere, but still not a place you frequently find yourself walking to, and every so often you can hear the crackling sound of fireworks. Still, it's not your place to deal with something that dangerous.You sit down on the cold asphalt, knees folded up, head in your arms, and just kind of... Contemplate the night? What sort of a strange mess your life has become in only a week? Just today you kissed a girl for the first time and found out there might be some sort of grand conspiracy about the organization that saved your life. Your hormones are swimming, your brain is floating, and the air around you feels too thin, too easy, like the opposite of how it feels when someone performs alchemy - but maybe that's just in your head?Is this what dissociating feels like? The world is a floating dream, and when you pull your head up to look at your hands, they don't quite feel like yours. You've lived such a humdrum life until now - you've never been in a fight until your teacher turned into a poisonous monster and tried to kill you, you've never really "hung out" with people besides your one, singular friend, you've just listened to music and did school and now the adventure is falling into your lap.You feel... Vulnerable? Afraid? Anxious?Behind a Dunkin Donuts. It almost feels like the ridiculousness makes it more surreal, more dreamlike. More like some kind of absurd prank. Where's the hidden camera?You start hyperventilating a little bit. What the hell is wrong with you?>Resist the urge to cry and/or freak out. [???]>Cry. [???]>Freak out. [???]>Cry and freak out. [???]And after that...>Decide to go home. [Exhausted]>See if the party is still on. [Bored]>Go check on the battle. You're not bleeding, so you should be safe. [Reckless]>Wander around in an aimless daze. It's not a school night, your mom doesn't expect you home, you'll be fine. [???]>Sit here until you feel something different. [???]>Free Option/Phrase
>>4517998>>Cry. [???]>Go check on the battle. You're not bleeding, so you should be safe. [Reckless]
>>4517998>>Freak out. [???]>>Decide to go home. [Exhausted]Fuck this, bedtime.
>>4517998>Freak out. [???]>Decide to go home. [Exhausted]
>>4517998>>Freak out. [???]I firmly believe that it's fine to cry, but I don't think it's quite intense enough for that yet. Let's just panic a little.>Go check on the battle. You're not bleeding, so you should be safe. [Reckless]Is the dragon down? Is it safe to be around people yet without worrying they should be attacked to get to us.
>>4518374>I don't think we've been mentally hurt enough yet.Sounds like a challenge from where I'm standing.
>>4518374>>4518112>>4518046You decide to freak out a little. Or, well, it's less of a "decision" and more of something that your brain just does for you. You haven't freaked out very much before, but you feel your heart starting to race and your veins pulsating inside of your hands, and it all feels so suddenly overwhelming, your awareness of the world around you, the feeling of your clothes, the temperature of the wind (cold), the feeling of the asphalt beneath you, the sounds of cars driving by every so often, it's all... A lot.So you bundle up your jacket into a ball and scream into it. And then you scream again, until your throat feels nice and dry, and then you're done, and you put it back on, hands still throbbing. Your head hurts and you still feel like you're dreaming, but you suppose it's time to turn on your map app and start the trek home - or at least somewhere close enough that the Uber won't cost 20 dollars.So, you walk.And you walk.And you walk.It's cold, but you have a jacket, thankfully, and your house is only about 45 minutes away. You can walk that, no problem.At some point, maybe halfway through, when you're still sort of lost, and the blood is still thumping inside your head, your phone buzzes with a text message.<heard from hyde that you were worried about a dragon? taken care of. how are you holding up? everything alirght?>From Ken, of course.><Yeah, I'm fine.> [Tired]><I'm not feeling well but it's nothing directly Dragon related. Kinda.> [Honest]>Don't answer. [Tired]>Free Option.
>>4519248>Yeah, I'm fine.> [Tired]
>>4519248><I'm fine, how are y'all?>
>>4519248>Free Option.><Feeling kind of overwhelmed. How often does this happen?>Because leaving aside Ronin being ominous, this is the third dragon Noah has encountered in a week of being inoculated. Fourth, if you count the one that Ken took him to see. I think a lot of his stress would be rooted in the fact that he apparently can't go three days without encountering an invisible monster that wants to eat him specifically. He was having a good time at a party and had to leave suddenly because there was a very real chance that he'd get everyone there killed just by his presence. If I were him, I'd be worrying about whether this is what he's got to look forward to for the rest of his life.
Probably no update today because of election anxiety. We'll see. In return, have a Saint.
>>4519469 I'm sorry to hear that the election is causing you stress. I don't know if this will help you, but I've started thinking about it as a report card that we already know we failed either way. It's up to all of us to do better, and demand better, every day from now through 2024 and beyond. We're in this together, Dragon QM.
>>4519469Yeah, I'm feeling pretty anxious too. Just trying to keep myself distracted, it's working fairly well. I hope you feel better, friend.>>4519475That's a good way to think about it. More a long-term thing, but still something actionable you can use to help you focus.
>>4519476 I'm actually working on a small project to help people make actionable changes that will be relevant to them and their communities, and hopefully stave off some of the existential dread that's being peddled so broadly right now. I'll probably start putting out some feelers in the next couple weeks.
>>4519331>>4519468noah/<Feeling kind of overwhelmed. How often does this happen?>ken/<the dragon thing?>ken/<yeah>ken/<its a lot>ken/<that being said im not a number lady but this week has been really active>ken/<abnormally so>ken/<unsure if this is a pattern or you just got involved at a bad time>noah/<I hope it's not a pattern. Don't get me wrong, the magic stuff is cool, but...>noah/<I can't go three days without bumping into an invisible monster that wants to eat me specifically>noah/<I was having a very good time at a party and then I had to bounce because there was a real possibility me being there would get everyone killed>noah/<I don't know, I don't want to seem melodramatic but like...>noah/<Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life?>ken/<i mean>ken/<there are options>ken/<there's a relocation program that you could apply to>ken/<get you and your family moved to rural virginia or something>ken/<but that's no guarantee and their FOODS branches are usually a lot sparser and less well funded than ours>ken/<but its an option>ken/< >ken/<im sorry>ken/<it sucks doesnt it>noah/<I can't say I'm a huge fan.>ken/<theres just something about us>ken/<you and i and everyone else here>ken/<and it draws in the worst the world has to offer>ken/<and i dont know if its any consolation>ken/<but im stronger for it>ken/<no normal person could beat me in a fight>ken/<im in control of my emotions now>ken/<nobody thats not a giant monster can hurt me ever again and thats worth the price of admission i think>ken/<idk about you>ken/<you dont have to come in to FOODS for training anymore if you dont want to>ken/<and if you want to look into that relocation program i can talk to the right people for you>ken/<willing to vouch>noah/<Thanks, I guess.>ken/<sorry>ken/<i wish i could say it gets better>ken/<thats up in the air>ken/<but it does get easier>A car passes by you, far too fast for the road you're on, but it's now, what, 2 AM? Who gives a shit. Your fingers feel a little less and a little more numb at the same time.><What's relocation like? Is there anyone I can talk to about it?> [Melancholic]><Who was hurting you before?> [Prying]><Right. Well. Thanks for the chat. Good night.> [Dismissive]><Who was that girl with the sword?> [Curious]><I hope it does get easier.> [Resigned]>Don't answer. [???]>Free Option.
>>4520246Oof, next time I'm gonna single-space it, lmao
>>4520246><Who was that girl with the sword?> [Curious]
>>4520246><I hope it does get easier.> [Resigned]><Who was that girl with the sword?> [Curious]>>4520248It might've been unreadable in single-space
>>4520246><I hope it does get easier.> [Resigned]><Who was that girl with the sword?> [Curious]
>>4520246><I hope it does get easier.> [Resigned]><Who was that girl with the sword?> [Curious]Free option><Anyway try to not get hurt *expecially* from the giant monsters. (I know you're an expert but please do watch out.)> [Worried] She can't worry about us if we worry about her first!
>>4519469Also Saint is one creepy fuck
>>4520983>>4520438>>4520412>>4520265>>4520257noah/<I hope it does get easier.>noah/<Anyway, who was that girl with the sword?>ken/<huh?>ken/<wait>ken/<you were there???>ken/<where were you???>ken/<>ken/<noah! that wasn't safe!>noah/<Don't worry about me, I was hidden and ready to run.>ken/<noah! that was a wyver>ken/<you know what>ken/<just count your blessings and be glad it didnt notice you i guess>ken/<christ>ken/<fuck>noah/<I tried to be as far from civilization as possible but whatever you guys were fighting about it ended up catching up with me.>noah/<Who's the girl?>ken/<>ken/<old ex-student of mine.>ken/<taught her last year>ken/<then she>ken/<left>ken/<i cant say shit like "dont tlak to her" but i dont think her side is the side you want to be on>noah/<I'm going to be honest, Ken. I have no idea what's going on.>ken/<just please try not to get mixed up in her business if you see her again>ken/<i dont want to see you become a murderer>noah/<Yeah, uh.>noah/<I would>noah/<I would also prefer that, I think.>noah/<This feels like it should be fairly uncontroversial but I feel like murder is bad, pretty across the board.>ken/<im glad we agree in that regard>ken/<one of the governing precepts of FOODS is to never use healing alchemy to harm humans>ken/<her>ken/<uh>ken/<ilk>ken/<have no such hangups>ken/<just let me deal with her>ken/<shes my problem. not yours.>ken/<okay?>You peek in through the front window of your door at home. Your mom, probably tuckered out waiting for you, is sleeping soundly on the couch. You slip inside, behind the door, as silently as you can, and then pull a blanket over her and give her a kiss on the forehead, because she's your mom and you love her.Then, you rummage around in the fridge for some food while determining your response.>Just don't respond. [Abrasive]><Yeah. Got it.> [Dismissive]><I can't guarantee anything.> [Rebellious]><Okay. Scout's honor.> [Honest]><Promise I won't.> [Lie]><If I promise not to, will you explain to me for real the full picture of what the hell is going on?> [Demanding]>Free Option.
>>4520984I'm glad you approve, I'll probably be getting more art from that artist relatively soon.
>>4521353>><Yeah. Got it. But I'd still like to know more about their angle, don't keep me in the dark.> [Dismissive/prying]Other non-committal options seem too abrasive for someone who's been consistently helpful to us.
>>4521353Oh, neat, I guessed that she was a bioalchemist. It makes sense with her defending the dragon, she wanted to study it.And supporting >>4521405
>>4521353><I'll try, but can you give me more details? Being always in the dark seems like a new constant in my life and I don't really enjoy that>
>>4521405noah/<Yeah. Got it.>noah/<But I'd still like to know more about their angle.>noah/<Don't keep me in the dark.>ken/<i will>ken/<here's what you need to know for now>ken/<her group thinks FOODS is evil>ken/<they dont care about using bioalchemy to kill people>ken/<theyre opposed to killing dragons>ken/<and theyre called "pandora".>ken/<not an acronym iirc>You chew on some granola bars, looking to settle your stomach with something that's not quite junk food. You don't like how the air is feeling.noah/<Right. Pandora.>noah/<Who is that? A person? Like, Dragon Mao Zedong or something?>ken/<girl from greek mythology>ken/<zeus made her as a "gift" to give to the titan prometheus's brother>ken/<wasnt really a gift though, prometheus gave humanity fire and they were pissed at him>ken/<they also gave pandora a box that contained every single ill and bad thing that could befall humanity>ken/<she was innocent and stupid and curious>ken/<and one day she opened the box even though she was told not to>ken/<and out came all of the ills>ken/<in a panick, she shut the lid>ken/<and managed to trap "hope" in the box>noah/<Great story. Love the symbolism.>noah/<What a name for your mysterious evil organization.>ken/<tell me about it>ken/<anyway, are you home safe?>You walk up the stairs, all the hairs on your body standing on end. Something is in your bedroom. You can just tell. Every single part of your lizard brain is screaming at you to grab a knife, so you grab the spoon, preparing to alchemy it into shape.You open the door to your bedroom, phone in one hand, spoon in the other.
>>4522500"You... Noah." Saint says, quietly, their feet clutching the middle of the bottom of the window, his arms, the right and left sides. They're clearly wounded, with scores of pockmarks and scabbed-over gashes fizzing and bubbling across visible areas of skin, holes torn in their hoodie to reveal the pallid, corpse-like flesh beneath, rippling with shark-like scutes, several of which have been cleanly torn off or broken in half. "I listened... I don't eat... Can't... Fix."They sound not quite as eloquent as before, clearly in a daze, gently swaying back and forth. Their fingers tense and flex in time to some slow, languid heartbeat. "Food... Please... No meat... Won't eat for... her..."Oh.Shit.><Yeah, I'm fine. All safe and sound. I'm gonna head to bed now. Stay safe.> [Collected]><I don't want to alarm you, but there is a wounded Dragon standing in my windowsill. They are not immediately aggressive. What do I do?> [Frightened]><Mom's awake and about to yell at me. GTG. Sorry.> [Reckless]>Free Option.Choose Another>Apologize and tell Saint they can't be here. [Frightened]>Steal Saint some snacks from the cupboard. [Selfless]>Ask Saint what happened. [Curious]>Free Option/Phrase
>>4522503><You mind telling me about the Dragon you fought? Heard a lot of running and not much fighting>>Steal Saint some snacks from the cupboard. [Selfless]>Put up some calming music [Reckless]
>>4522503Oh, dang, the thought that it might have been Saint crossed my mind but I didn't expect it to be right.><You mind telling me about the Dragon you fought? Heard a lot of running and not much fighting>>Steal Saint some snacks from the cupboard. [Selfless]>Ask Saint what happened. [Curious]
>>4522503Last thing to do now would be to provoke him by calling in Ken. Supporting >>4522653><You mind telling me about the Dragon you fought? Heard a lot of running and not much fighting>>Steal Saint some snacks from the cupboard. [Selfless]>Ask Saint what happened. [Curious]
>>4522530>>4522653>>4523127noah/<Yeah. Before I hit the hay,>noah/<You mind telling me about that Dragon you fought?>noah/<Heard a lot of running and not much fighting.>You slip down the stairwell as gingerly as possible, your besocked feet making the least amount of noise you can possibly muster. But still, it isn't enough, and for a moment, you panick at the sight of your mother stirring on the couch, worried that she might somehow be able to see Saint if she were to come up to your room.ken/<big slippery wyvern type>ken/<winged arms, non-traditional venom, breath weapon>ken/<it was more interested in running away than actually trying to kill us>ken/<slippery fella>ken/<why do you ask?>Thankfully, she just mumbles "Go to bed, Noah", as you grab some snacks from the cupboard and scurry your way back upstairs as quickly as possible.noah/<Just curious. So you were chasing it a lot?>ken/<yeah>ken/<almost got it pinned in the parking lot but it just took an arrow to the wing and left>ken/<like i said>ken/<slippery little fella>You shut the door to your bedroom slowly and quietly, trying not to wince at the loud click as all the door-like mechanisms lock into place. You pull up a chair and deliver several bags of snacks to Saint.They don't bother to open them - they just eat them, wrappers and bags and all, their teeth surprisingly bad at ripping through plastic unless they awkwardly manuever their oversized canines to use as openers. So instead, they swallow them whole, their throat making distressing gulping sounds while they chews and swallows.Already, you can see some of the lightest wounds and scrapes starting to close up. Of course - all the weird stuff Dragons do is just alchemy, so it requires the same stuff your alchemy does, right? Including calories? That makes sense to you, at least."What happened?" You ask, pulling up a chair and flipping it around so you're leaning against its back while you sit, arms crossed."Smelled food... Got too hungry... Had to... run." Saint says, gasping for air between meals. "Took a walk around the world... Ease my trouble... mind." They say, low, throaty chuckles ringing from between their teeth. "White girl... too loud. Others... hate me. It was a big... big mess."The more they eat, the more some of their eloquence seems to return, even if between throaty gasps for air. "At least a bullet... wouldn't have to pull it out... Why an arrow?" They joke again, rearing their head back to cackle. "Robin Hood... And I'm the Sheriff..."You nod, slightly dumbfounded, just taking it all in. "Why... did they hate me, Noah? I'm... Dangerous...">"They don't hate you personally, it's just... part of their job, I think." [Assuaging]>"I think they're afraid you're going to get too hungry and do something bad." [Cautious]>"I think they're trying to protect people they love, like you're trying to protect Her." [Empathetic]>Free Option.
>>4523974>"I think they're trying to protect people they love, like you're trying to protect Her." [Empathetic]
>>4523974>>"They don't hate you personally, it's just... part of their job, I think." [Assuaging]
>>4523974>"I think they're trying to protect people they love, like you're trying to protect Her." [Empathetic]>Free Option.>"I'm new to this, but...I think you're different from normal. From what I've heard, most dragons either can't or don't try to control themselves like you do. They people who fought you just didn't know. They thought they had to."
No update tonight - very exhausted from various things throughout the day up to and including taking care of the dog, turning in early. Will try and get an update out tomorrow afternoon/morning and then another one tomorrow night.
>>4525016Woke up, changed my mind lmao>>4524314>>4524092>>4524027"I think they're just trying to protect the people they love. You love her, right?" You ask, leaning into the chair a little more until it lifts off its back two legs, using your feet to steady yourself on the ground. Saint nods quietly. "And I will... protect her... until she can see me... again..." They hiss, gently running their fingertips across injured skin and scales, feeling the wounds close beneath them with some incredulity."They're just trying to protect the people they love." You say, trying to connect the two groups with some pointed empathy. Saint looks down at you, almost thoughtfully, mouth closed - although with their lips the way they are, their face is permanently stuck in some sort of sharp-toothed rictus grin, which is always disconcerting."I will find... the other girl... With the golden sword..." Saint replies, taking a long inhale through the slits that used to be, presumably, their nostrils. "You smell like her..." They say, quietly, stepping back and out onto the fire escape. The metal creaks and whines underfoot, unused to someone of Saint's density. You watch, perhaps waiting for his limbs to transform back into wings, but no such change comes. "If you find her... Be kind... She deserves a better..." They whisper, barely audible, before shaking their head and bursting into loud growls.For a second, your instincts kick in, making you reach for your pocket, but then their arms hook into the railing of the fire escape and they climb up and out of view almost instantaneously. You poke your head out the window just in time to glimpse them leaping across the alleyway behind your rowhouse and onto the roofs, before slipping out of view entirely.Sighing, you shut your window, click it locked, and flop into your bed. Tomorrow's a Saturday (or would that be later today, since it's past midnight?). What's on the agenda tomorrow morning?>Steel yourself for asking more about Pandora in person with Ken. [Curious]>No focusing on that. If excessive Dragons are in your future, your immediate short term goal should be getting strong enough to become self-sufficient. [Determined]>Check in on Rebecca, see if she wants to hang out. You need a break from this Dragon business. A real break. [Exhausted]>Find someplace quiet and open. You don't need teachers - you know the fundamentals. You can puzzle out this "alchemy" business yourself. [Curious]>Free Option.
>>4525179so much for taking a break>Check in on Rebecca, see if she wants to hang out. You need a break from this Dragon business. A real break. [Exhausted]ignore quest, get relationship
>>4525179>No focusing on that. If excessive Dragons are in your future, your immediate short term goal should be getting strong enough to become self-sufficient AND protect Rebecca when a Dragon inevitably comes for her. You know this is going to happen. [Determined +Genre Savvy]
>>4525179>No focusing on that. If excessive Dragons are in your future, your immediate short term goal should be getting strong enough to become self-sufficient. [Determined]>Free Option.>Text some with Rebecca when we get the chance, arrange to hang out when we can.
>>4525515>>4525197The next morning...Somehow, you possess the sheer focus and willpower required to get your homework done before midnight on Sunday - perhaps its the threat of death, of yourself and others, or the potential to learn magic, but you blitz your way through math problems and vocabulary questions like you've never blitzed through them before. You feel a little bit more motivated than last night, a fire ignited, albeit a small one that will likely require some nurturing and feeding.It's probably not all correct homework, but it's done nonetheless. A quick text exchange with Ken, and she comes to pick you up to take you to a nearby park - not the bigger one in the city, but a small one attached to one of the nearby suburbs, with only a plastic and metal playground, open grassy fields, gentle slopes, and a baseball diamond to consider. Even during the motorcycle ride, the air feels tense, although you don't know if that's just you feeling it near Ken, or Ken feeling it mutually towards you. Emotions, as you've discovered recently in the past week, or, hell, the past 12 hours, are complicated and fickle things, and you do not understand them nearly as much as you thought you did.Before you start training for the day, you remember to text Rebecca, give her a poke about when the next time you two can hang out is.That would be nice.Ken cracks her knuckles and rolls her neck until it audibly cracks as well, leaning back and then giving her spine a good twist left, then right. "Right. Any requests, pipsqueak, or do I just put you through the wringer?" She says, dropping a big, heavy bag of assorted stuff on the sand beneath the playground.Pick up to two>How do I actually, like... swing a weapon? It's occurred to me that this is not something I know how to do.>I think I need to develop a little more muscle mass before we get to any fancy magic tricks so I can lift more than a milk carton anytime soon.>How the hell do you and everyone else *bounce* all over the place so much?>Can you teach me anything about bioalchemy?>What's some basic defensive things I can do to increase my overall life expectancy?>I've got nothing. Let's go with your suggestions.>How do we train my pneuma?>Free Option.
>>4526524>I think I need to develop a little more muscle mass before we get to any fancy magic tricks so I can lift more than a milk carton anytime soon.>How do we train my pneuma?
>>4526524>How the hell do you and everyone else *bounce* all over the place so much?>What's some basic defensive things I can do to increase my overall life expectancy?
>>4526524>Are there any tricks I can do without actually bleeding? I don't want to call any dragons to me while hiding.>How the hell do you and everyone else *bounce* all over the place so much?
>>4526524>>How do I actually, like... swing a weapon? It's occurred to me that this is not something I know how to do.Knowing how to actually hold yourself and put your whole body into fights is way more important than pure strength, and I'd rather get some fundamentals down before getting ahead of ourselves on magic.
>>4526524>How do I actually, like... swing a weapon? It's occurred to me that this is not something I know how to do.>How the hell do you and everyone else *bounce* all over the place so much?Let's get some technique down. While strength is useful it doesn't really matter if we don't know how to use it. Moreover it would be nice to know what kind of fighting style we're going to lean into so that we can aim for a leaner or bulkier build.Also Dodge > Block.
>>4526524>>4526764+1Fundamentals fundamentals fundamentals.
>>4526524Supporting >>4526764. Let's get the fundamentals, and some mobility.
No update tonight, someone poke me tomorrow so I don't forget to update in the middle of the day to make up for it.
>>4526764>>4526919>>4526939>>4526738>>4526542>>4526627"Right, so, um, two thoughts. One - I don't actually know how to swing a weapon, or really use one in any practical sense." You say, watching Ken as she continues to stretch herself, kicking her legs out and into a lunge, winding her arms up, the works. She nods quietly."Mmhmm. And number two?"You start mirroring her stretching the best you can, although your body creaks in defiance, joints already starting to yell at you a bit. "And how do you guys move so fast? Like, you're jumping all over the place like a jackrabbit, I doubt that's just leg strength?"She reaches into the pocket of her soccer shorts and tosses you a small baggie of pills... or more like multivitamins? You stumble to catch them but do somehow manage to avoid them hitting the dirt. "Pop one. Multivitamin with crystallized Dragon venom. Won't hide us completely but will stop people from looking at us funny if I make my hammer grow twenty feet." She says, pulling one out of her own pocket, popping it into her mouth, and then crushing it with her back teeth. You follow suit quickly, at least appreciating that they attempt to cover up the intensely bitter taste with some semblance of strawberry flavor. "The two things you want to learn about are tied to the same alchemical concept, so we'll start there.""They are?" You ask, slightly confused. She pulls her hammer out of her big bag and gestures to its handle, inviting you silently to look closely at it and the coloration in some decent daylight. Namely, how it's stained thoroughly in smeared brown smudges that you immediately recognize as dried blood. "It's called bloodbinding. The more alchemy you perform on the same object, the more it ties it to you, sort of like leaving an impression in the alchemical field that doesn't go away. If you tried to use my hammer for anything more than bashing things normally, you would need a lot more blood than usual, and eventually I'll reach a point where I don't need to bleed on it at all. So, obviously, we'll explore our options, but it'll be good for you to find something you want to use and stick with it." She explains, gently rocking left and right on her sledgehammer, using the head as a pivot against the ground."And your shoes?" You ask."Those are also in the process of being bloodbound, yes. Anything that you move on, you can use to change how you move, and shoes are no exception. This is why most slayers use the same equipment during missions, and, unfortunately, why they smell sometimes."You laugh. "Can't wash the shoes?"
>>4528817She chuckles right back. "Not if I want to start over, no. It won't wipe all my progress but it will be a setback. And the less you have to bleed around a Dragon, the easier it is to get the drop on them." She reaches down into her bag and starts pulling things out - two sets of weights, followed by an array of assorted objects, including a water bottle that she rolls across the ground to you.She sets down a couple of things in front of you - a pair of modern boxing gloves, a kendo... stick? The wooden fake sword. A pretty hefty metal trash can lid. An aluminum baseball bat with one of the donut weights on the end of it. Then, she goes to a nearby tree, finds a good sized, straight branch, and snaps it off, biting her thumb so she can use another branch as a knife and speed-whittling its tip down into a point, before returning and dumping it into the pile. "All I could grab on short notice. I imagine you don't think about weaponry pretty often so I'll go through them for you."She kneels down in front of the selection and starts gesturing to them. "Obviously, if you'd like to beat Dragons with your bare hands, it gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of grabbing, grappling, and mobility, but then you're also face first with a Dragon. Not for me." She says, pointing to the boxing gloves."I can grab you an actual shield at some point, but, suffice to say, being bashed in the head with a shield is not fun. Surprising amount of offensive utility so long as you can keep track of your surroundings." She says, pointing to the trash can lid."It's a sword." She says, watching you for a reaction, pointing to the kendo stick. "The beginner weapon. It does everything decently.""A lot of people like baseball bats and other long blunt weapons because of their amount of alchemical utility. Concussing a dragon won't stop it as quickly as skewering its brain, but everyday objects have a lot more flexibility with alchemical conceptualization, especially if they're wooden and you're creative."Finally, she points to the incredibly roughly made spear. "Spears, lances, halberds are very old guard, very European. Very easy to stay out of reach, it's the next best thing for staying personally safe besides just getting a compound bow."She fans her arms out like she's presenting a table full of amazing wonders for you to pick and choose from, smirking. "And after we get some practice in with this I'll teach you about the shoes.">Grab the gloves>Grab the shield>Grab the sword>Grab the bat>Grab the spear>Free Option
>>4528819Hard to get better if we're dead, so either shield or spear, probably. I'm torn but if -I- had to pick, I'd go shield. Maybe even two. Get them into a nice punchy shape and get some good cover too.
>>4528819>Grab the spearNoah's worry is being attacked and needing to defend himself. His focus should be on weapons he can quickly make out of his surroundings with alchemy, since he can't practically walk around with a sword in the modern era. I think spears are a good option given that it should be easy enough to find a random pole to turn into one. Also, as >>4528831 says, keeping foes at a distance is good for survival. A spear is also the best weapon for fighting a big animal, which is what a lot of dragons are from a practical perspective.
>>4528819Also leaning on spear or shield. Shield has additional utility since we can trap things literally inside the shield or use it as a massive bite attack on whatever we block.Could we disguise the real shield as a captain america-themed backpack? That would make it infinitely easier to carry around.
>>4528819Spear or Shield since we're playing the role of a guardian rather than someone who's more aggressive in combat. Can we pick up both to go maximum phalanx?
>>4528819>>Grab the spearI just like the aesthetic, honestly, but the range fighter utility is no joke. As for disguising a spear we're working on bloodbinding, we could probably just shrink the length while not in use to keep in a bag or something.
>>4528819>Grab the shieldSooner or later we'll have to defend from ranged attacks.
>>4529122>>4529065>>4529042>>4528895>>4528831"Can I grab two?" You ask. She looks at you and shrugs her shoulders, and then thinks for a second."Can you lift both at once?" She asks in return. You reach down and grab the trash can lid, no problem there, your knuckles pressed into the cold metal, and then you try and grab the tree branch, but without both of your hands it's... difficult, to say the last. And if you can hold it up with both of your hands, then you barely have room to hold the shield, squeezing your fingers. "Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it." She says, grabbing her hammer and giving it a swing like a baseball bat."No, I got this." You say, taking the sharpened tip of the spear and gently piercing your thumb with it at the tip, wincing at the splintering pain. You quickly tug a little tiny shard of wood out and flick it to the ground before you wipe your thumb across the wood, imagining it being chiseled, carved, smoothed, lacquered into something more befitting of being called a "spear". "Whittle.", you say, and the branch splits in half, discarding outer layers of bark that quickly dissolve away into the wind before forming a smoother, more aerodynamic shaft - and one that fits more easily in one hand.Ow. Your thumb hurts. Awkwardly maneuvering yourself so you don't lose grip of your new weapon, you pop your thumb in your mouth and mumble "Scab over.". There, that's better. Kissing the wound to make it better, feeling it crust over where it would be an hour in the future, just now. You grab back hold of the branch, now light enough to be held in one hand (albeit still kind of heavy). Ken claps quietly, smiling at you."Impressive. Alright, sure, if this is how you want to go, then you better be willing to put in the arm work so you can use both." She says, dropping her hammer and picking up the boxing gloves, strapping them on. "Hit me!""You sure?" You ask, tightening your grip on the spear. The tip is pretty pointy! For a second, it occurs to you that you are basically holding a giant pencil, and you feel the need to suppress what would've been an otherwise very inappropriate laugh."Yeah. 'Cuz you won't." She responds - and then she's in your face, throwing a punch. Instinctively, you bring your left hand up and her punch goes CLANG against the ringing shield, making you stumble back a step or two. CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG her fists sing a choir of punches, the round shield almost blocking your view of her tight, well-maintained boxing stance. The trash can lid begins to bend and warp, and this close, you can't exactly reach back far enough to poke at her. CLANG
>>4529537Your combat instincts - for how underdeveloped they are, know more than what you do. If you want to actually get a hit on her, you either need to get away or you need to get her away from you. "What happened to lifting weights?" You ask, laughing breathlessly between blocked blows."You'll learn faster by doing!" She says, just as breathlessly, only throwing jabs in your direction, straight on. "I'll correct you once you hit me!" CLANG CLANG CLANGGrimacing, you lean forward and push into her, and then sideways, trying to pull one of her punching arms away - deflect it to the side, don't take it head on, and then she punches you in the stomach. "Good try!" She taunts - whatever sort of alchemical enchantment is on her gloves, it barely feels like getting hit by anything at all. It's not even sore, but she's hitting your shield like a flung shot put. "If you had both hands you could be using your grip like a lever right now, it would give you more CLANG maneuverability. Both hands are occupied! Use both of them!"She ducks in a little closer and punches you straight in the nose at a velocity that you know would break it if she was throwing any serious punches, and then gives you your first hook, sending you staggering a couple of steps sideways, before returning to the advancing onslaught of forward jabs.>Make the shield bigger so you can use it to press her back, try to bash her with it. [Defensive]>Shrink the shield's handle so you have room to two-hand the spear, like she said. You grabbed two things so you could be more flexible, didn't you? [Creative]>Who said you had to jab her with the pointy end? The spear is long, she's focused on hitting you, swing it at her head, hit her with the body of it. [Bold]>Free Option.
>>4529542>Shrink the spear to a shorter length and stab her
>>4529542>You need to get distance, fast. Copy Ronin's sword lengthening trick with your spear to leap back, then keep Ken at bay with the point. [Defensive/Creative]
>>4529542>Warp the shield around a hand while keeping enough coverage to block the other. It doesn't have to be tight, just narrow enough that she'd have to step back to pull her arm out. That should give you room to poke [Creative]
>>4529687This basically ensures she stays in the range optimal for her where she can pummel us with her other hand and freely control our shield.
>>4529691Other way around. A shield grapple keeps us at the right distance for reach advantage. She needs to step back before she can step any more forward.
>>4529694We must be understanding your write-in in very different ways.
>>4529724I guess so. I AM talking about lengthening the shield beyond its current mass/reach.
>>4529542>Who said you had to jab her with the pointy end? The spear is long, she's focused on hitting you, swing it at her head, hit her with the body of it. [Bold]
>>4529884With a one-handed grip this should be pretty ineffective.
Rolled 3 (1d4)>>4529567>>4529568>>4529687>>4529884Rolling.
>>4530320no shit? Uh, do you need me to clarify anything about the write-in?
>>4529687You curl your arms inward just enough that you can wipe the scab off of your thumb, pinching it against the metal of the trash can lid to smear a thin streak of blood against it. Then, on her next swing, you think about the trash can that the lid doubtlessly came from, holding garbage within itself, shut to the outside world until opened from the top, "Contain!"The lid shrink wraps itself to her hand, leaving you holding the handle, where you can easily jerk her left and right. She makes a tiny little noise, and then immediately begins wailing on you with the other hand while you slide your hand down the shaft of your spear and twist your wrist before choking back up on it, wedging it between the side of your elbow and the inside of your forearm.There. Leverage.You tug Ken forward with the shield, towards you, and in desperation, she manages to squeeze her hand out, tripping backwards over herself. At the same time, you lurch forward, your shield arm recoiling back from the sudden shift in weight, your spear managing to get right up to Ken's nose, barely brushing against it, before she catches it with her palms, clapping them together. You curl the fingers on your left hand a little bit and drop the lid so that it can rubberband back to its original shape, while Ken gently pushes the spear's tip away from her face. "Clever.""Does that count as a hit?""Sure." She concedes, letting go of the spear and reaching down to pick her glove back up, strapping it back onto her hand. "If this was a real fight, I probably would've shattered your ribs, though. Try not to do something that risky in a real fight. You've got a range advantage.""No need for the sour grapes." You tease, cracking your neck. She makes a strange expression and bops you on the nose with her glove."It's not sour grapes, I just don't want to see you dead." She grumbles. "There are two main divisions between spears you'll want to keep track of when you're picking something out. There are kinds that just have pointed tips, and you can usually throw them if you've got enough arm strength, and there are kinds that have flat tips, and you can swing sideways and slice with them. Whichever you ultimately end up picking out, you'll want to adjust accordingly. Those closer to pointed spears will need a lot of forward and backward motion, and polearms will need you to be able to sweep, which might be harder with one hand."Ken walks around to behind you and reaches out to grab your wrists, positioning your hands for you on the spear. Your back hand pivots left and right, your left hand controls the tip, like painting with a giant paintbrush. "You kind of got it before with how you wedged it between your elbow and your forearm. You're gonna need a lot of elbow and forearm strength so you can move a spear with your entire arm, and not just your wrist. Watch..."
>>4530551-----After another 45 minutes of drills, sparring, and instruction, your arms are pretty thoroughly tired - your wrists and forearms especially. Every spar usually ends with you pulling out some sort of goofy trick and getting around whatever wall of punches she's laying down - although the last one, where you are most tired, you just bonk her with the side of the spear's shaft and call it a "hit".You get a 5 minute break and chug some of her water. By the time that's over with, she's already stretched out and limber again, pointing to your shoes. "Right. What sort of words of power do you think will work best to move you fast?" She asks, gesturing to her own brown-stained shoes. "No wrong answers... But no right ones, either. Think about the mechanics of running and moving.">Free Phrase.
>>4530554>SkipBounce, grip, redirect, slide, cushion...but I like the idea of skipping stones
>>4530554>SpringI'm thinking elastic energy capture here. Recycling the energy from each step landing to make pushing off with the next one easier. Downsides is that it may give us flubber shoes until we learn to control it.
>>4530554>SpringI reckon this can do triple duty with our shield (bounce attacks) and spear (pogo around).
>>4530554>LightLess mass, less inertia.
>>4530721I'm with this.>Spring
>>4530554>yeetJust for shit and giggles, but I wonder how it would react.
>>4531156>>4530721>>4530642You bend down, prying the tip of your thumb open with your teeth again, spitting out the tiny little reforming scab in the process. You smear along a streak of blood on the undersides, just because you have a small spike of fear thinking about your mom noticing blood on your shoes and asking about them, and then bounce a little bit on your heels.When you hit the ground, you're pushing down, and the ground pushes back up on you. That's physics, at least to your awareness. So, if you think about that, recycling the energy, making your footfalls harder, you should go faster, higher...Right?You take a deep breath and start jogging. "Spring!" you say to the world, and the world responds back, and you immediately bounce up an extra foot in the air and two feet forward and eat shit, curling into a loose somersault so as to avoid doing any actual damage to your face. Ken looks at you with a tiny little smile - she's not withholding a laugh, but it does seem to give her a little bit of amusement, for whatever reason.She reaches down, picks you up, and dusts your shoulders off. "That's definitely an answer. And, congrats, that's the answer a lot of FOODS uses once they're done training. It's simple physics, right?"You nod, clearly on the same train of thought as her. "I push on the ground, the ground pushes back up, I step forward, Earth keeps on turning." You reply."Right. So if you can amplify that, you can move a lot faster. Buuuut it's also an entirely new set of reflexes to work with. Your brain has grown up for... 17? Years, adjusting itself to the timing of walking, running, and jumping." She says, taking a moment mid-sentence to remember how old you are. "And now you've gone and completely futzed the rhythm. It gives you too much vertical momentum, so you can't time your footfalls, and too much horizontal momentum, so you proceed to eat dirt when you lose balance." She explains, tapping her head intermittently in thought while she recites a mixture of her own advice blended with textbook thoughts. You're starting to get a read on her expressions - she makes a sort of expression, looking up and to the right and pursing her lips to the left, whenever she looks like she's remembering something rote. "If you want to learn the timing, we can teach you the hard way. Or you could try something else.">"There's an easy way?" [Snarky]>"It's not like this has been particularly easy to begin with. Let's go." [Confident]>"Let's try something else." Free Phrase.
>>4532076>"It's not like this has been particularly easy to begin with. Let's go." [Confident]If we had the skill with alchemy to be able to maintain multiple transmutations at once, I'd say to also reinforce the knees and elbows of our clothes. But I don't think we can split our attention that way yet. Guess we'll just have to heal any scrapes.
>>4532076>"It's not like this has been particularly easy to begin with. Let's go." [Confident]I'm apprehensive of putting an open wound to the sole of our shoe though. Is there a tetanus-preventing alchemy?
>>4532076>"What's your phrase of choice in this matter? Just for reference." [Curious]She apparently went through the same to bloodbind her equip, so it might be worth asking.
>>4532594Smart. Supporting [Curious]
>>4532727>>4532594>>4532175>>4532142"It's not like this has been particularly easy to begin with. Let's go." You say, trying not to move too much as you pry yourself up off the ground. "What's your phrase of choice in the matter? Just for reference.""Bounce. Probably would do the same thing, at least if we're on similar mental wavelengths. I hit the ground, the ground pushes back up, I go flying. Let's get at it, sport."She gives you a clap on the back and you go hurtling forward again once you accidentally trip and make another footfall.-----You have advanced to Mobility Alchemy level 1!By the time another 45 minutes pass by, you're sore, exhausted, and your nose has bled at least twice. But the first time you managed to jump from ground level to the top of the playground was certainly a unique thrill that you're glad you managed to feel.You don't think, though, that you're battle ready with this. Not at all. Ken gives you some Sports Drink™ and asks you where you need to go, pretty much exactly at the same time as you get a text back from Rebecca.rebecca/< yeah im free >rebecca/<your place or mine?>Good question.noah/<Where do you live?>rebecca/<the closest you can be to center city and still be in our school district lmao >rebecca/<ill just send you my address contact book thing>Hmm. Not too far at all - probably about equidistant from your place from here. Ken doesn't try to peek over your shoulder or anything, but she does give you a tiny, amused sort of expression, one corner of her lip curling up. "You're blushing.""Am I?" You ask, genuinely not knowing if you are or not."A little." Ken replies. "Where we headed?">Go to Rebecca's place.>Ask Rebecca to come to your place.>Free Option.
Oh god damnit 4chan strips emojis out of your posts? Wack
>>4533578>Go to Rebecca's place.Ours is compromised by fucking dragons.>>4533583Test emoji below(ﾟ∀ﾟ)
>>4533608It doesn't strip everything.
>>4533609It strips out phone-style smiley emojis
>>4533578>>Ask Rebecca to come to your place.We've been exercising and bleeding on our stuff, we should really grab a shower and change of clothes first.
>>4533578>Ask Rebecca to come to your place. You gotta shower and change.
>>4533578>Ask Rebecca to come to your place.Yeah, we need a shower and a change of clothes. Don't meet up with a girl covered in sweat and blood until you know that's something she's into (and also isn't carrying a latent dragon gene. Never be bloody around anyone we don't know isn't carrying a latent dragon gene).
Last update for the thread. Hope you are all enjoying the story so far.>>4534093>>4533774"We're headed to my place." You respond, shooting Rebecca a text back and stuffing your phone in your pocket once she responds.noah/<My place, if that's okay with you.>rebecca/<yeah no probs! <3 >rebecca/<ill pop an uber>noah/<Give me, like... ten minutes before you start the ride?>noah/<I need to freshen up :P>rebecca/<hahahaha, sure>"Right. Let's get going." You say, dusting your dirt-encrusted knees off and getting some of the worst grass stains off your clothes. Ken stifles a laugh. "What's so funny?""Nothing. Don't worry about it, pipsqueak. Let's get you home fast so you can shower." She responds, laughing, packing her stuff up (and chucking the branch that was a spear into the trees), and strapping the bag to the side of the motorcycle thoroughly. On goes the safety gear. "Vroom, vroom."-----The drive back is uneventful. You thank Ken for helping you out, she brusquely "No problem"s you as usual, and off she goes. Your mom pays you as much attention as she normally does when you're both awake - enough to get the skinny on what exactly is going down with the rest of your day, and then she gives you your space.She does seem excited to meet Rebecca, though.The shower is warm, and you resist the urge to fall asleep within its comfortable cascades. Afterwards, you deodorize, put some rubbing alcohol on your various new fun scrapes and cuts, and get dressed. And brush your teeth thoroughly, just in case there's more kissing to be done (although your expectations aren't high).Rebecca arrives about ten minutes later with a knock on the door, followed by ringing the doorbell. You shout "I'll get it!" down the stairs as hard as you can, but you're not fast enough somehow to prevent your mother from already opening the door and making an awful first impression.Just kidding, it's probably fine. "Hi! You must be Rebecca. Come in, make yourself at home!" She says, reaching a hand out for a polite little handshake. Rebecca slinks her way in, squeezing past your mom into the narrow home and dragging her bookbag behind her."Don't mind if I do." Rebecca says, starting to trudge her way up the stairs. You wave hello, and she gives you the Nod of I Have Noticed You, which makes you smile a little bit. You welcome her into your room and watch as she flings her bookbag onto your bed before plopping down onto it. "Nice place you got here." She says, staring upwards at the ceiling before turning to you. "Your mom's nice.">"I mean, she can be pretty mean when she wants to be." [Humble]>"Thanks! I built the house myself." [Joking]>"Are your parents, uh... not?" [Blunt]>Free Option.
>>4535533>"Thanks! I built the house myself." [Joking]I'm enjoying this quest immensely. Please don't vanish like many other promising quests did.
>>4535533>"Thanks! I built the house myself." [Joking]
>>4535533>"I mean, she can be pretty mean when she wants to be." [Humble]
>>4535533>>"Thanks! I built the house myself." [Joking]Enjoying this a lot as well. Nice take on urban fantasy.
No new thread tonight - a website I work on broke to SHIT and I'm gonna be up all night fixing it. Will try to archive and get a new thread up tomorrow.
Thread archivedhttp://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/4505648/I accidentally listed it as #1 again because I'm very smart. Gonna try and get that rectified.New thread soon. Please feel free to upvote the thread on suptg if you've been enjoying the quest so far.
New thread time.>>4538212>>4538212