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In this world, is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? Is it like the hand of God hovering above? At least, it is true that man has no control, even over his own will.

Alas, they are certainly welcome to try and struggle to deviate from the laws of causality. Such is the case for a human mortal by the name of Vlad Santana. A young male who would find himself at the crux of a story that would eclipse his mere mortal soul.

Character Profile and abilities
https://pastebin.com/QZJkmpvG

Previous Thread:
https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5198601/

Thread Archives:
https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Vlad%20Santana

Rules:
Rolls will usually be a best of 3 1d100 from each player, DCs are context sensitive but transparent when prompted to roll.

Only 1 and 100 count as crits and good crits override bad ones.

Voting period closes after 1 hour from the first reply or when enough players unanimously choose the same options.

You can always ask for additional context for your choices and voting can be extended should anyone make an argument that could change previous votes.

Write-ins are always welcomed so long as they dont break character.

Have fun and do your best.
>>
>>5247847
A nap is something that you hardly enjoy nowadays.

Not because you are unable to sleep, on the contrary, after being battered, beaten, seeing a family member sacrifice herself to save you and take a horrible wound directly to the soul, there's nothing more your body asks of you than to rest and sleep for the entire day. But every time you shut your eyes, you're haunted by the same nightmare you've been having for what feels like an eternity.

You're at the Santana estate, seemingly never having magical ancestry with your adoptive parents and you have ended the plague of the occultists, until Merlina herself shows up to corrupt your dream, morph your spirit into a tree, ending with the falcon of light comes to end your life and snap you into reality.

Sometimes the dream alters slightly, you ask different questions to your parents and to your servants, sometimes Farnese or Guts are there, sometimes you're the one that gets possessed by magic and start slaughtering your friends and family. The message always remains the same: you're the one that did this, and you can't dial back in time.

The worst part is, you can never tell that it's a nightmare until you wake up, it all feels too real, as if you always forget of the true condition of the present. In truth, your mind does want to forget all of this, and the fact that it can't is weighing down on you.

Physically, spiritually, mentally. You are exhausted. There is no quick fix to any of these, especially given how your body is reacting weirdly to Od Transferring, you've asked your horse to spare you some energy a few times, and every time you attempt to fix yourself, your muscles spasm as you feel like you were gut punched and rag-dolled by a spirit at the same time.

"Vlad stubborn. Rest and don't complain." Even Gunpowder with his limited vocabulary advises you not to do much while you're travelling. Exhaustion is a bitch, but considering it will take at least a few weeks to get back to Ilos, you might be able to lick your wounds and sit this one out. What's the worst that could happen, anyway? It's not like you have a branded individual on your group of refugees, Farnese handed out the money to Hyde and with only a few days waiting, he came back with several horses and supplies to last you until the next settlement.

"Here we are again." Serpico helps you get on your carriage. "It's always such a pleasure to see you standing. Especially now that I'm not obligated to off your head."
"Water under the bridge, right?" You chuckle to him as you find a comfortable place to sit before parting.

>So how did you live through the Ceremony by yourself?
>Is Farnese doing alright?
>I assume you know where we're going by now?
>Write-in.
>>
>>5247892
>>Write-in.
>"Well....That was kinda fucked up huh?"
>Is Farnese doing alright?
>I assume you know where we're going by now?
>>
It's back!
>>5247892
>So how did you live through the Ceremony by yourself?
>Is Farnese doing alright?
>I assume you know where we're going by now?
>>
>>5247892
>>So how did you live through the Ceremony by yourself?
>>
>>5247903
+1
>>
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>>5247902
>>5247903
>>5247912
"I assume you know where we are going by now?"

"Not really. Hyde gave me the gist of it, but I wanted to know more about this Ilos place since he hasn't visited it personally. Even so, it was best to wait things out, you're not the only one who suffered some damage there and needed rest, it was a good idea to wait for a bit before starting our trip given what everyone's still trying to process."

"Yeah... It was a fucked up night, wasn't it?"
"And that's putting it lightly. I would say something about not wishing this upon my worst enemy, but then I remember that this was all caused by your enemies..." Serpico refers to Mozgus, missing out on the encounter with the God Hand members.

"How did you live through all of that, anyway? Seems like a lot of work to fight for an entire night by yourself."
"It wasn't all by myself, mind you. I did the same as you, stay to where fire was and stuck with the groups. Can't say I've ever fought an intangible foe before, striking with my sword was as effective as slapping them, so I begrudgingly picked up the torches with Jerome."

"I thought you were afraid of fire?"
"Still am. But when whatever was threatening on drowning and killing me starts to scream for god while it devours the soldiers you're trying to command, the trauma I had in the past with fire seemed little in comparison... All I had to do was hold a torch on my non dominant hand, I'm not as stubborn as Lady Farnese, Vlad. I know what to do when push comes to shove."

"Still, the fire had to run out eventually, right?"
"That it did. As if things couldn't get any worse, the tower started to collapse on us, don't even know how Jerome and I lived through the rubble, but I'm glad we did. Those spirits were hopelessly stupid, it's like once you hide underground, you stop existing in their line of sight. I would recommend doing that beforehand, but considering there were several other corpses who also were crushed under the weight, maybe we just lucked it out."

"But how did Jerome died if you were both safe?"
"Well, we were hearing a man's scream for help. Some guy named Joachim was trying to climb his way up and got stuck with a large wall crushing his back. Jerome appeared to know him from the prostitution ring, one of the girls took a liking to him so he wanted to pay her back and save one of the regulars, but when he crawled over, the wall crushed him further as the rubble sent us deeper into the pile. Joachim was saved, but Jerome bled out a few hours before help reached us. Hearing his groans turn more and more silent while all I could move was my neck and my fingers... 'Rough night', you can say that again..."
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>>5247989
"Damn, from the little I've seen of Jerome, I thought he was just some lazy richie. Didn't think he would try to play hero. What got into him?

"When no hero shows up for your aid, you have to be your own savior. I wasn't particularly close to him myself, but I've gotten quite used to seeing his face. I did also get used to seeing corpses since I've walked with the mistress for so long, but It's never a pleasant feeling to see them falling on your team, is it?"

Between Serpico's deadpan voice, his squinty eyed expression, and how fast he processes his emotions, it's hard to say whether he's taking the news in stride, or if he's just so exhausted by everything that all he knows is to smile and nod when asked to.

"Apologies, I didn't mean to turn the situation about me."
"I'm not exactly your boss, Serpico. You can be subjective on your debriefings, especially if it's a situation you just got out of."
"Noted. I'm just trying to get used to the attention."
"You call me talking to you every now and then attention?"
"Well, yes. When I hear my name called, it's mostly to follow orders, not for the 'How's it going?' chatter."
"Guess I should change the subject to familiar territory then. How's Farnese?"

"That's exactly the reason why I'm somewhat aimless today. I appear to be in some sort of vacation? Farnese told me she doesn't want me by her side for some time. She needed room to think and didn't want any interruptions, so I left her on her own and came over here to inquire."

"Huh, does she tend to do that often?"
"Not in the slightest. First time, actually. When she got mad at somebody and took it on me, it was easy to tell, but the fact that there's no malice in her words means something drastic got to her on that day, something other than the mountain of corpses she's used to seeing."

Serpico kneels over to your eye level, closely observing your facial expressions.

"You wouldn't happen to know what that was, would you?"

>She did see the corpse of a child getting ravaged by a horse...
>Losing her faith is probably making her ruminate a lot.
>I might have touched her inappropriately while she was half naked...
>She saw me having a talk with the ones leading the ceremony.
>Nope, not a thing. Must be the changing of seasons.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5248007
>>Write-in.
>Tell him everything that happen while we were with her. And then tell him about the corpse child, because Gunpowder is the bloody protag, not us.
>>
>>5248007
>"Her eyes were opened to how deep the corruption of these beasts run. How easily can someone deal with their principles being proven false, give her time. The path forward is something personal for all of us, and never easy."
>>
>>5248012
+1
>>
>>5248012
+1
>>
>>5248012
>>5248014
>>5248024
"Her eyes were opened to how deep the corruption of these beasts run. How easily can someone deal with their principles being proven false, give her time. The path forward is something personal for all of us, and never easy."
"Care to elaborate?"
"With pleasure, do you mind handing me some water from back in the carriage? This might take a while."
"Freedom of orders only lasted a few minutes... You're lucky you're covered in bandages..." Serpico climbs onto the wagon while you recall in your memory on where to get started.

You share your knowledge on Apostles, how Behelits work, who really is the Falcon Of Darkness, and why you and Guts are so interested in stopping the God Hand. Serpico appears to be following and asking questions at the start, but the more you try to go into detail, the more his face sinks deeper into his hands.

"Did you get all of that?"
"Kind of, after the whole horse and the child part the absurdity of the events caught up to me. I thought the exhaustion was getting to me once I overheard Farnese telling the story to you but... I'm at a loss for words."
"I could repeat it if you want, I'm still not sure I understand how they manipulate causality aside from the fact that they do--"
"That's fine. I don't think I could sit through another one of these talks." Serpico coughs, holding back some of his breakfast from coming up his stomach.

"So 5 Gods want to enter this dimension, and if they do, we're all turning into creatures with no free will under their command, most likely looking like demons we fought in Albion, only worse, and on a much larger scale."

"Correct. They're already removing free will with each passing generation, giving how people are submitting to The See and forgetting other cultures, the origins of magic, fighting proxy wars, etc. It all boils down to being desensitised of your own ability to choose."

"And with the Falcon Of Light being incarnated, it provided a leeway for them to keep doing their plans, right? But is it really possible for people to just blindly be brainwashed in such a short amount of time? I know everyone's been dreaming about his coming, but what exactly can he do to sway all in the crowd to his favour?"

"I have no idea. And while Griffith is Guts' target a lot more than mine, one God Hand member on my world is one too many."
"...And where exactly does Farnese fit into your warfare...?"
"What?" You lower your mug and catch the sight of a fierce Serpico.

"I was under the impression that you were taking Farnese away to safely stay in Ilos, but it seems like you're forging together a team to fight ridiculously high odds. I appreciate what you've done with Farnese, and how you've changed her into a better person. But if you are thinking that I'm letting you take Farnese into a suicide mission with you, that's where I draw the line."
>>
>>5248058
"I'm not forcing her to follow me, if that's what you're worried about. We've talked this through, she does want to follow me."

"Vlad, you of all people should know that Lady Farnese is regarded for the poor lapses in her judgement. I wouldn't be tasked with staying at her side for all my life by Federico de Vandimion himself if she didn't need guidance."

"It's not like I want her in the front lines, I just want her to be on the side of the victors when we're done with this."

"And who's to say she will live to see it through the end? Or you? Or me? Your life is your own to take risks with it, but exposing Lady Farnese to danger is something not even Father Mozgus ordered her to do. You don't even have a plan on what to do after placing the refugees in Ilos, do you? One can only imagine what improvising will do against a war with deities."

Serpico questions your intent, heavily disagreeing in putting Farnese in more danger when she was already broken by a single day of revelations. In a way, it's important to talk about future plans with Serpico, given he's the most competent fighter you have on your side, establishing loyalty with his cause could serve a lot better to raise morale than merely establishing dominance.

Farnese has listened to you more often than him recently, but rubbing that on his face wouldn't really accomplish much, would it? It's best to discuss your primary and secondary plans with him and hope he won't mistake your drive for foolishness.

>If Griffith has a human body, it means he's a mortal. Killing him takes priority.
>Uniting with Guts and The Skull Knight would greatly increase our chances. We'll unite with them if possible.
>We have a private army in Ilos, and I'm a lord there. We have more than enough numbers to keep Farnese safe, or if the war against the Kushan forces us to pick a side.
>I don't have what it takes to be a major player in this fight yet, so I was hoping to find my mother Sivir and learn more about magic with her while taking some allies with me.
>Farnese has shown to have potential in magic, if I can teach magic to the refugees in Ilos, she will know how to defend herself.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5248100
Alright anons, what are we gonna do? getting stronger is a priorit, and I think it'll be more possible by going with guts and ending up in elfheim, but we have people in illos that need our protection and we can't just take them with us
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>>5248100
>Uniting with Guts and The Skull Knight would greatly increase our chances. We'll unite with them if possible.
>We have a private army in Ilos, and I'm a lord there. We have more than enough numbers to keep Farnese safe, or if the war against the Kushan forces us to pick a side.
>I don't have what it takes to be a major player in this fight yet, so I was hoping to find my mother Sivir and learn more about magic with her while taking some allies with me.
>Farnese has shown to have potential in magic, if I can teach magic to the refugees in Ilos, she will know how to defend herself.
>>
>>5248109
I think we should stay here in Ilos for a few months and ensure our people can have a chance, ensure Barnham has some power for the new kingdom to not just collapse and resist until we return.
For that to happen : Defensive runes on settlements and fortifications, weapons and armors with runes, and trying to train some soldiers with the basics of magic. Since Barnham had some sorcerers we aren't completely alone, and even a few soldiers that know magic could be a boon.
While we stay in Ilos after we rest, in our free time we can spar with Barnham (and other characters) and practice magic. Our seeds could be used for create wood for winter, and additional defenses in the territories we hold.

After this months we leave and try to get to our mother as fast as possible, try and learn what we can, and then get back here. If we find friendly and good groups on the road without home, we tell them to go to Ilos.
If we just leave, Barnham and the soldiers can fight but that's it. He can train more soldiers, but he doesn't have knowledge like our own.
And i don't think Barnham will leave the new found kingdom.
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>>5248100
>>We have a private army in Ilos, and I'm a lord there. We have more than enough numbers to keep Farnese safe, or if the war against the Kushan forces us to pick a side.
>>I don't have what it takes to be a major player in this fight yet, so I was hoping to find my mother Sivir and learn more about magic with her while taking some allies with me.
>>Farnese has shown to have potential in magic, if I can teach magic to the refugees in Ilos, she will know how to defend herself.

Mention Guts and Skull knight, but even if we can ally with them, we don't know when they will be available. Or when they wish to join forces.
Beyond that mention what we can do in Ilos, before departing for reach our mother. Serpico has seen what we are capable of, and a few months would give us time to breath and for accomplish this tasks (use the post above has an example of the things we could do)
>>
>>5248109
Ultimately, I’m completely fine with anything happening as long as we get Barnham as a traveling companion. I love that dude so much and I want to take down Zodd with him
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>>5248157
>>5248164
I'm in favor of either of these.
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>>5248157
>>5248227
"There are a lot of factors at play here Serpico, and you're justified in not confiding in me completely, but I'm not fighting this war alone, Guts and The Skull Knight have the same goals as me, and even if we don't unite in the near future, I still have a whole private army by my side."

"Private army? They have those in Ilos?" Serpico raises an eyebrow.
" I'm a lord there. We have more than enough numbers to keep Farnese safe, or if the war against the Kushan forces us to pick a side. It's a breeding ground for fighting, where only the strongest of the strongest make it into the army of gladiators. And even if they were all weaklings, we still have Barnham at our side."

"Barnham? Isn't that the name of the renegade who refused to partake in the hundred year war? What makes you believe he will lend you his power?"

"He's an apostle, and a strong one at that. The more he feasts on his enemies, the stronger he gets. Defeating him in battle made me on friendly terms with him, so the only way I'd see him turn a blind eye to me would be if--"

Your mind wanders to the possibility of Barnham betraying you. Being one that submits to displays of power, if Zodd appeared with Griffith on Ilos and asked him to fight on their side, what would he do? A new Band Of The Falcon won't appear out of thin air, but Griffith needs some way to miraculously prove that he can win against Emperor Ganishka in the Kushan Invasion to sway the crowd in his favor. If Barnham ran out of Wyndham's castle without murdering Princess Charlotte, it's because he already established contact with Femto...

Will Barnham submit to the God Hand afterall? That would make Ilos a lot less secure than you might have hoped for. If Zodd flew up into the air to carry Griffith to victory, you can only hope that it wasn't to steal the army in the coliseum.

"If what?" Serpico wants to know what stopped you from finishing your sentence, with you trying your best to stay confident despite growing paranoia.

"If I proved to be a weakling against stronger foes... I'll admit that I don't have what it takes to be a major player in this fight yet, so I was hoping to find my mother Sivir and learn more about magic with her while taking some allies with me. So far I've only met good creatures and powerful creatures, but never both. The more powerful astral creatures have been sealed off from this realm, and that includes the ones that could help us. If my mother had to hide somewhere beyond the sea, There's a chance she was near the presence of magical users much more experienced than I am."

"You're going to need a boat for that, though. And the sea is way up north past Vritannis."
"Money won't really be an issue. Even if the Vandimions suddenly went broke, Barnham and I have enough money to at least buy one large to medium sized ship, I believe.
>>
>>5248360
"Besides Serpico, Farnese will be surrounded by actual warriors to protect her this time, not a few subpar soldiers with several incompetent ones, no offense." It would have taken one minor apostle to wipe the floor with the Holy Iron Chain Knights, and keeping a group like that next to Farnese would be detrimental to her safety.

"Even so, Farnese already knows how to use a sword, that doesn't mean she will survive in an active battlefield with her strength alone."

"I'm not asking her to wield a sword, she's shown to have potential in magic when she healed me with that gigantic pool of hers, if I can teach magic to the refugees in Ilos, she will surely know how to defend herself in other ways."

"But you said you didn't know all there is to know about magic yet. Are you really qualified to be a teacher?"
"Out of the thousand-something people living in Ilos, I'm sure at least one of them would be able to learn it from scratch. Barnham has the resources, considering he has a Kushan caster monitoring the arena he runs, there's still a plan B to go through even if I can't explain how Tudorian magic works well."

Serpico replies with absolute silence to you. He has picked up that nothing you've said is quite set in stone. The reason him and Farnese stuck to the church was that despite their heinous acts, there was a safety net for them to fall on. Now that non-lethal missions were thrown out the window, the possibility of dying became much more real to him.

"While I don't doubt your character, Vlad, I do doubt your methods. I'm not saying I have better ideas, but Lady Farnese's safety comes first for me, and that's not something you can prioritise when no one knows the day of tomorrow. Since my opinion does not weigh much in Farnese's final say in, I'll at least let her come with you to Ilos, but know this: If there comes a time where I have to save either you or her, I'm picking Lady Farnese and covering her ears. No looking back."

"And if she ever comes to pass thanks to your involvement, you better have the decency to at least finish me off too, otherwise I will be the one to spike your heart at the tip of my blade. As you've said before, 'No offence'."

>Understandable, welcome to the team either way.
>You don't scare me, Serpico. Hopefully training in Ilos will make you more intimidating.
>Farnese is safe with me. There is nothing for you to worry about.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5248431
>"If it comes to that I'll be dead already, welcome to the team."
>>
>>5248431
>That brings me to another point, Serpico. The old saying that power corrupts is true - and while right now my intentions are pure and my goals are just, I want you to watch me closely. If I ever cross a threshold where I've abandoned my morals and becoming willing to callously sacrifice others for my goals, I want you to beat some sense into me. And I that doesn't work, then kill me. I would rather die than to become the same as those I fight against. There's good reasons for why I've refused to use black sorceries so far.
>>
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>>5248496
"If it comes to that I'll be dead already, welcome to the team." You take his hand into yours and force it into a shake.
"You know, it's hard to stay mad at you when you take these threats in such stride." Serpico sighs, feeling like he wasn't taken seriously.
"Oh, I am taking you seriously, which is why I have a favour to ask..."
"This really is the last time I complain about having little to do... Shoot." Serpico whisper the first part of his sentence, but lends you an ear regardless.

"The old saying that power corrupts is true - and while right now my intentions are pure and my goals are just, I want you to watch me closely. If I ever cross a threshold where I've abandoned my morals and becoming willing to callously sacrifice others for my goals, I want you to beat some sense into me. And I that doesn't work, then kill me."

"That's... Very sudden. Out of all the people I was expecting to be corrupted or turned into apostles, you weren't even on the list." Serpico is taken aback by your declaration, even if a few moments ago, he said he would have no problem killing you, maybe it's the cause that rubbed him the wrong way.

"Unpredictability must be predicted. The Behelits choose it's bearer, not the other way around. There's good reasons for why I've refused to use black sorceries so far, I would rather die than to become the same as those I fight against. Even so, there's still chance that it might happen, and if there's someone who should be able to recognise signs of decaying mental stability, it should be you."

"Right, but I'm not exactly used to interrupting mental breakdowns with words, that's more of your thing."
"Nothing stops you from learning, and if you fail, you've proven to be more than competent with your sword."
"...Noted. Let's hope it doesn't come to that though, if we do have to fight, I'd rather it be with you as a human, not a monster."
"Certainly." With those final words, you let Serpico alone with his thoughts, finally being signalled that the horses will start moving towards Ilos.

The journey is long indeed, and the first thing that proves to be an issue is the cold. With Fall turning into Winter, the mosquitoes have disappeared, the nights became longer, and the first few drops of snow turned into freezing blizzards.
Luckily, the first stopping point wasn't too far off from Hyde's route, only a few days of travel and you got into a small settlement faster than you could say "We're running out of food."

Unfortunately, while Farnese has the money, the commune wasn't exactly flaunting their wealth. It was a small group of survivors who were struggling just as much as you.

Your pack is a lot bigger than theirs, but they are certainly carrying a few spare blankets, to which Hyde manage to buy none before departing.
>>
>>5248597
>Inquire the group about their background.
>Stock on food, only buy the spares medicine and blankets.
>Stock on medicine and blankets, leave their food.
>But everything from them, You'll thank Farnese later.
>Offer a trade.
>>
>>5248599
>>Inquire the group about their background.
>Stock on food, only buy the spares medicine and blankets.
>>
>>5248599
>Stock on food, only buy the spares medicine and blankets.
>>
>>5248676
>>5248719
Buying food and ingredients to last for the entirety of the week, you wonder how these people managed to survive this far. The village (if you could even call it that) was very small, and while they did not appear to be starving, none of them were exactly in peak condition to hunt, to last the winter, or to even experiment with medication.

"Was this the place you went to when looking for supplies? You ask Hyde, wanting confirmation.
"Yep. Though I don't remember these folks selling me anything, those ones were younger types."
Perhaps they were their parents? No harm in asking, someone should remember if a flying dude came into a small place to ask for supplies, right?

"...No. I don't remember any of you." The man answered calmly.
"Ya sure? Someone had to see me landing, my girl here even laid an egg on the window there." Hyde points to a broken window on top of a brick house.
"Your harpies can already lay eggs?"
"They sure grow up fast..."

"I'm serious, this is the first time I'm seeing any of you. Unless you have visited in the past few days, then..."
"Then what, did everyone forget what happened here in the span of a few days?"
"...Yes... Only reason we're not panicking is because we all had enough memories to piece together where we were, and how to survive. #1 knew how to read, #2 remembered how to speak, #3 remembered how to cook..."

"Hold on, old timer. You're telling me you're calling yourselves by numbers? You don't even remember your names?"
"No, but #20 knew how to count, so order was established, and we were not afraid. Our memories should be coming back eventually, given how fast our recovery was, so maybe we'll get to remember who greeted you bought your items from."

A collective failure of memory. Taking back to the report of a faceless entity seen wandering around the rubble in Albion, you start to imagine if there's a correlation between the two occurrences.

None in the commune seem afraid of anything, but what if they forgot about having fear too? What if people went away from this place for a reason, and the others just forgot about it? They don't seem to be in any imminent danger, but the fact that none of them remember something as simple as what happened in the past 5 days raises a bit of a red flag.

>Warn them to watch out for a faceless entity.
>Offer protection in exchange for more supplies.
>Take them into your care.
>Carry on, you have to worry about your own for now.
>>
>>5248769
>Take them into your care.
I'm not sure we can afford to take them on as we are, but we should at least extend the offer.
>>
>>5248769
>Offer protection in exchange for more supplies.
>>
>>5248769
>>Take them into your care.
>>
>>5248769
>>Take them into your care
Check their Od and the Od of the village. Maybe there is something strange
>>
>>5248769
>>Take them into your care.
>>
Sorry for taking a while to update today anons, irony of the century was that I got food poisoning and had to stay some time in the hospital to stop un-eating my meals.

I'll write the update for today before going to bed since it wasn't that much to begin with but I think I'll start doing updates throughout the week instead of just weekends at the cost of being a bit slower on weekdays, just figured it would be more efficient in the grand scheme of things.

Remember to be a responsible adult and not eat old food just because "The taste is still alright". Maybe taking longer to progress the minor events is being true to the Berserk experience afterall.
>>
>>5247847
Oh hell yeah we still live
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>>5249910
That's fine man, food poisoning sucks ass.
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>>5248847
>>5248883
>>5248945
>>5249076
Keeping company with them is out of the question, since you need to get back to Ilos as soon as possible, but it would also feel wrong to leave such aimless geezers to freeze to death once their food runs out.

"Would you like to join us in our travels? We're going to a bigger place, one that could leave you in safer hands."
"But this is our home! We won't remember what happened unless we stay here!" The man seemed hell bent on staying united, memories or not, these older folks always seem to be stubborn with decisions.

"How about you talk amongst your group about the decision? Surely one of you folks are curious about solving the issue." Hyde proposes, and after a few minutes of waiting for them to decide on their next course of action, it seems one of them is indeed, curious."

"#4 is the youngest of our group here, shouldn't be hard for him to endure the cold. As soon as the weather clears up, he should be able to come back to tell us the rest of our story, so long as nobody stops him in the way."

"That's the hardest part about this trip..." You ponder. "What's the one thing you didn't forget when you were attacked?"
"How to heat up the fireplace."
Things are really down on the dumpster if they couldn't even remember what fire was for... Upon closer inspection, he's the only one whose fingers don't have any burn marks...

"Well, no time to waste then, on aboard!" You give him a tap on the back, hoping that was enough to feel for his Od, but the familiar burning of your soul makes it look like you opened up a deep cut inside your entrails. What's even happening with your body if you can't even properly feel Od? Hopefully there's a magic specialist somewhere in Ilos...

As if chastising you for trying to use your magic too soon, your body is healing a lot slower from the wounds you did previously, and when you attempt to sleep that night, the pain keeps you awake, not being sharp enough for you to wail and scream, but annoying enough for you to not get more than 20 minutes of shut-eye.

Limping over to where Hyde was, you see his had tilted over to his head as he snores slightly at Gunpowder's saddle, leading the troop of survivors while you're not in peak condition.

You could stay awake and have a chat with either of the two, or try to find a way to sleep again, but between the cold hurting your bones and your soul shouting "I'm in pain!" every few seconds, you might need something to help you rest.

Why does sleep matter so much anyway? If you're lying down for half the day, there shouldn't be much difference between how fast you heal with your eyes closed versus with your eyes open...

The medicine pouch is with you, along with a full container of an unknown alcoholic beverage Hyde found somewhere with the refugees. One whiff of it nearly made your eyes water, it smells like pure alcohol, and probably tastes even better...
>>
>>5250036
Your liver isn't used to drinking anymore, maybe a good chug could help you go nighty-night, but then who's going to watch the road? Gunpowder can stay awake at night with no problem, but if it gets too cold for the others, or if a spirit attacks the convoy at night, someone needs to give the others a heads up, and it's not going to be the 2 sleeping men from the first caravan.

Serpico's ride is following 3 meters behind, with him also being half asleep, he voted against going slow and steady in case another blizzard popped up, but rushing the journey because you can't really read a map properly when every key location is covered in snow, it was either that, or rush for a way to get lost.

Farnese's side of the tents aren't lit up, she went to sleep several hours ago, and you should have done the same, in retrospect...

>Wake Hyde up.
>Take a sip of his booze and go to sleep.
>Search for some medicine to ease the discomfort
>Have a chat with your horse.
>Sleep through the pain, it's all in the mind anyway.
>Signal for Serpico to take the lead.
>>
>>5250066
>Wake Hyde up and sleep through the pain, it's all in the mind anyways.
>>
I really hope that Kushan sorcerer that Barnham has can help us.

>Captcha: KP2AM
>>
>>5250066
>Have a chat with your horse.
>>
>>5250066
>>Sleep through the pain, it's all in the mind anyway.
>>
>>5249910
Food poisoning is always a bitch, so I sympathize.
>>
>>5250066
>Have a chat with your horse.
Hope you feel better after puking all that food up man.
>>
>>5250066
>>Have a chat with your horse.
>>
>>5249910
No problems becchi, take it slow
>>
>>5250185
>>5250384
>>5250449
You've known Gunpowder long enough to keep track of his mannerisms without the heavy use of telepathy. Plus, it's a bit fun to mimic his non-existent voice, even if you end up sounding like a weirdo.

"Hey there, GP! How's the cold been treating you?"
"Cold make me angry, but no energy to stay angry. Vlad no sleep?" Gunpowder turns over, appearing to be somewhat peevish over another boring day of walking in the snow.
"Nope, still in major pain from last time, but it's getting better, just not healing as fast as I hoped to. Heard you took down a possessed horse the other day, I still haven't thanked you for saving Farnese, even if you don't like her."

"No need for Vlad thanks. Other horse inferior for losing to enemy he can't see. Woman weak for sleeping after I gave her gift." Gunpowder chastises Farnese for fainting after he courageously beheaded her attacker and threw his decapitated head at her, like a cat leaving a bird's guts at his owner's doorstep as a sign of respect.

"Easy, now. Even I would have a hard time sleeping after seeing that imagery." You sympathise with her, making Gunpowder reply with a huff and a few minutes of silence. Whatever he had to say probably wasn't very nice, so he held his tongue, or was it his mind?

"Not used with working with more horses. Takes me back to younger times." He starts reminiscing. "Old Group had many horses too. White Hair Man led pack of horses everywhere, followed his horse every day with strong mouth blocker."

"You talk so little about yourself, I sometimes forget you were with The Band Of The Falcons." You imagine GP with an enforced muzzle, while soldiers tried to keep him following the trail without rebelling.
"Was less free then. Hated how White Hair Man had skinny horse. No muscles, frail, ate so little. Was not befitting of horse than went first. Wanted to eat his face for not noticing." He complains about Griffith's ride, while also relating it to present day.

"Me leading group now, good sensation, familiar. Feel like true leader now, strong leading with strong human." Gunpowder uncharacteristically gives you a compliment, even in your crippled state.

"Like White Hair Man, Vlad too, leader now."
Leader, huh...

>I wouldn't really compare myself with a leader of a mercenary group.
>I have surpassed the old Griffith, both in power and morals.
>I'm only a temporary leader for now, but a small team wouldn't be so bad.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5250596
>I'm only a temporary leader for now, but a small team wouldn't be so bad.
>>
>>5250596
>>I have surpassed the old Griffith, both in power and morals.
>>
>>5250610
>>5250686
"I'm only a temporary leader for now, but a small team wouldn't be so bad. Nothing too big, though I don't trust myself in directly ordering large crowds after that blunder. It's mostly out of necessity, maybe a group of 5 to 10 people?"

"Group better include me. Vlad not show his last fight yet."
"Of course it includes you, friend. Who else would be waltzing into apostle territory without proper experience with me without so much as considering his demise?"
"Vlad teach me something. Weak fighters look for fights, but when weak turn into strong, the fights come to them." Gunpowder mentions how the more you grow in power, the bigger the target you will be, maybe the God Hand is finally noticing you are up to something and will throw more monsters down your way.

Although with monsters running more rampant, suffice to say they will be thrown everywhere, not just to the strong.
"If we were in more peaceful times, I would probably be more noticeable then. Given how humans enemies go down so easily nowadays, I can confidently say I have surpassed the old Griffith, both in power and morals."
"What about new White Hair Man? Or Big Sword Man?"
"If you're worried on that, maybe you really should have eaten his face. We wouldn't be having this conversation if you did."
"I do hard work everyday already, Vlad should do it sometimes." If he could laugh instead of neigh, that's the one spot where he would.

"Griffith is the one man I don't plan on joining sides when we finish our fight, that I can promise you."
"Fool me once, I'm mad. Fool me twice, I'm stupid. Fun is had from killing until we find White Hair Man, acceptable stupidity." Gunpowder warms up to not having to fight every time, sometimes the wait is what keeps you hyped for when the chase actually begins.

"One day I'll get strong enough to satisfy your ridiculously high standards, GP."
"Will wait for that day." He stays with his eyes on the road, never remaining unfocused, but galloping slowly so the others could catch up to him.

>Talk about something else with him.
>Watch the road until the sun rises.
>Try to sleep again.
>Signal for Serpico to take the lead.
>Wake Hyde up.
>>
>>5250735
>>Talk about something else with him.
Vlad is beating himself too much, it's literally the first time he lead a group. Many of them survived and had a chance to fight thanks to him and his leadership
>>
>>5250735
>Try to sleep again.
That talking would have tired anyone out, now that Vlad is more tired he really should try to get some rest until morning.
>>
>>5250767
+1, and contemplate >>5250761 as he does so
>>
>>5250767
Leaving Gunpowder on his own, you close your eyes again and attempt to rest once more. Maybe talking to a friendly face was exactly what you needed to get some sleep.

Were you being too harsh on yourself? The amount of people that died in the tower of conviction were far too many for you to save, and even if you did, you're walking at near max capacity as is. If you led them all back to Ilos, you would see a lot of them starving, freezing or being told to leave from overpopulating the coliseum.

That could be the case, but consider what's at stake here: You're sick, sleep deprived, dealing with the possible death of Sivir, and wondering if Griffith will steal an entire city's population away from you. At times like these, you start to envy the rulers who can easily ignore the pleads of the people, but the higher you ascend, the more you have to watch for the ants below.

...Maybe a sip of the booze would have emptied your mind faster. The way your head is, you could stay talking to yourself for all eternity.

You've slept for a new record this time: 1 hour! The sun wasn't even what woke you up this time, but the bump from Gunpowder's sudden stop. Wonderful...
#4 and Hyde seemed to be arguing outside your carriage.

"What the hell is this about?"
"Number four over here found an offroad trail leading to the woods, but look at the state this place is in!" Hyde points outwards as you yawn and pull over your sheets.

A large Kushan group laid still, buried in the sand. No regular enemy could have defeated them, but the only thing near your sight is a large pack of growling wolves, still intact from whoever went into the snowy forest.

Something that somehow stayed intact were the footsteps of the attacker. A small pair of human feet indicated that the attacker was indeed a humanoid, but one who could leave evidence of his presence over here for this long? Seemed like a trap, through and through.

"I'm serious! The reason the younger people of our commune left was due to something related to the Kushan! I just don't remember what that is!" #4 pleaded for Hyde to investigate.

"You see anyone here in good condition to fight something that can beat a kushan troop after running thourgh a wolf pack, partner? I can't even take flight with the sky being like this without my eyelids freezing when I blink! We can't exactly sit down and wait when we have wagons of people pleading for our next stop to be near us."

Rationing an extra meal is costly when the matter is not money, but supplies. Hyde's concerns are understandable, but if nothing else triggered #4's memory, he's bound on going there by himself without any help.

Searching into the forest with him is not something you're considering either, but you'd be feeling like the biggest of assholes for telling him to fuck off after promising to help his crew.
>>
>>5250924
>Keep going uphill and avoid the encounter.
>Ask Hyde to check the area by flying low.
>Ask Serpico to fight the wolves.
>Investigate the Kushan troop's corpses.
>Go on the alternative path.
>>
>>5250933
>Investigate the Kushan troop's corpses.
If that thing is nearby, we need to know what it did to the Kushan. Wolves are a known factor; this mystery humanoid is not a known factor. At this point if the wolves try attacking the convoy, they're free food and fur for us to use when we take them down.
>>
>>5250933
>>Investigate the Kushan troop's corpses.
>>
>>5250933
>Investigate the Kushan troop's corpses.
>>
>>5250933
>Investigate the Kushan troop's corpses.
Time to get back in the saddle, nothing like investigating some corpses to get the blood flowing again.
>>
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>>5250956
>>5250958
>>5250964
>>5250965
Well, no point in delaying things then.
A 1d100 should suffice. Either we find something interesting, nothing at all or get the alpha pack pissed off, the wonders of rolling for results!
>>
Rolled 25 (1d100)

>>5250988
Nothing bad could possibly happen
>>
Rolled 60 (1d100)

>>5250988
>>
Rolled 52 (1d100)

>>5250988
ROLLO
>>
>>5250998
>>5251034
>>5251059
"Let's at least take a look at their belongings before we give a final answer." You point for Hyde to take a look at what they had with them, their death wounds, and whatever was close to them. He is the hunting professional of the group, so he should be the one to best analyse the field.

"Can't really use my nose with it being clogged and all, but I don't smell any animals on them. No recent bite marks or piercing wounds on them, not even a drop of blood." Hyde makes an attempt at forensics, despite his rhinitis.

"Weird, did they run out of supplies and freeze?"
"Hard to say, they look pretty heavily clothed, if the food wasn't buried in snow and sand, I'd say we should take them." Hyde looks inside a water container, but all he hears is the thunk of an ice block.

"So who do you think killed these people, if you had to guess?"
"Nothing physical explains it. Maybe that's more fit for you magic people... No human would be stupid enough to walk barefoot over here, that much I can guarantee. The skin could stick to a cold enough surface and would tear off when pulled. I know a trap when I see one, made similar ones when having to make a run in an opposite direction. Going here feels like walking into a trap."

"B-But... if the Kushan were here, and they were going to where my commune was... They must have found the younger group somewhere in the way, what if they got attacked and had to hide in the forest?"

"If they really found them, I'm sad to say nothing could have prepared them to a heavily armoured Kushan group. That thing waiting for us to venture in the woods? It can't be someone you know..."

"Someone I know... That's it!" #4's face is riddled with terror. "The one who attacked us had no face!"
"What? Hyde remembers the report of the faceless monster."
"In one moment, I was talking to my neighbor after supper, but when I took a closer look at him... his face had disappeared! I blacked out and forgot everything before I could shout for help, the monster can hide in groups and look exactly like someone you know, and when you're at your most vulnerable, it attacks!"
"Then why did he kill the Kushan group, but not you? Is it a benevolent creature?" Hyde furrows his brow.
"I... I don't know.. I can't make out a reason why he would let us live..."
This story is getting hairier by the minute. You would love to be using your spiritual powers to confirm who that entity is, but with what Od Pool?

>Can we kill the wolves?
>Can we fly to look for the perpetrator?
>Let's get out of here before he hops on our wagons then.
>Best to take you back home so you can recover safely.
>>
>>5251108
>Let's get out of here before he hops on our wagons then.
I got a bad feeling that we have outstayed our welcome, time to GTFO before something tries to square up against us nigga.
>>
>>5251108
>"Let's get out of here before he hops on our wagons then."
>Devise a test to surreptitiously put the members of your caravan through - little checks for inconsistencies in stories and behavior. Even check the other horses for any oddities in how they behave - you can't be sure that the faceless monster is limited to only humans, after all. Perhaps...well, your od might not be in a good state, but maybe you can enlist Farnese's aid in creating a worthwhile Ward that could bring such a monster extreme discomfort, and use that to root out the monster if it's among you already?
>>
>>5251150
+1
>>
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>>5251113
>>5251150
"Let's get out of here before he hops on our wagons then. Sorry #4, hopefully we can still find what's left of your group."
"But...But..." He tries to form an argument and remember something else that would help his case, but with Hyde pulling him away from being bitten by a wolf, he ultimately gave in.

"Your safety should come first, partner. If we find the rest of your people, we'll let you paint the picture on your own terms." Hyde slowly backs away as he looks at the leader of the pack dead in the eyes, not wanting to get rabies when he didn't even plan on fighting.

Breaking formation and leaving in a V line, you instruct Hyde on how you plan on dealing with this looming threat for the next few days.
First, a background check on who's who. Noting down names, features and mannerisms on a piece of paper, who you kept under close guard to make sure no one else read it.

Secondly, you would ask them if they forgot anything important, if they felt like something was missing in their minds, or if they saw anyone lacking a face recently, all coming down to varying degrees of 'no'.

"Well, the whole point of forgetting is no to remember something important, how could I remember what I just forgot?"
"Someone with no face? I think you would hear something going down the other wagons if a creepy sight like that showed up!"
"Goo Goo, Gah Gah..."
"Of course he doesn't remember anything, you're asking a baby!"

After hearing what everyone had to say in person and re-reading all answers in the following night, two options were very clear: Either the entity wasn't here and you were safe, or it is very good at hiding.

The only ones who said something noteworthy were #4, who clearly forgot everything anyway, and Farnese, who-
...Farnese's section is blank? That's weird, you thought she would be the first one you would interrogate, but she did told Serpico she didn't want to see anyone.

Well, the horses are resting today, so you might as well waltz there to be sure.
Limping over a few steps with your cane and a short sword on your free hand, you check Serpico sharpening his sword while Hyde pets his harpy. You're relatively safe on their earshot.

Reaching Farnese's wagon, you notice that she's lying down, the lantern inside her lodgings still lit. She makes very little movements, being sluggish and groaning with every twist and turn. Her whole body, safe for her head, is under a heavy blanket, making it hard for her to turn around.

Since you're facing her casting shadow, it's safe to assume she hasn't noticed your near presence. Great if she's the enemy, creepy if she's just regular Farnese.

>Talk between the curtains.
>Enter the wagon.
>Ask her to come out.
>>
>>5251230
>Talk between the curtains.
>>
>>5251230
>Enter the wagon.
This is...ominous.
>>
>>5251230
>Talk between the curtains.
Lets not surprise her by just barging in. I tried that once when someone was sleeping too. It did not end well.
>>
>>5251230
>Talk between the curtains.
>>
>>5251253
>>5251256
>>5251257
>>5251272
"Farnese, you awake? I'd like to have a word with you."
"Hm?" Her voice is still the same when she hums, but after hearing your voice, she huddles more into her blanket and stays still.
"Farnese!" You repeat her name, making sure she knows you're calling for her by name.
"Go away... I thought I made it clear that I didn't want nobody seeing me here..." Her voice is very whiny, and from the way she speaks her nose appears to be somewhat clogged.
"It's important. I'm afraid there's an intruder in our group, and I'm checking with with every passenger. You're the only one left."
"Do I really have to get up...?"
"Just get closer to the curtains, it won't take long." You see her mustering up strength to even get out of her sheets, sitting down in a comfortable position as slowly as possible and dragging her lower torso closer to the entrance. The panting from those motions made her run out of air pretty fast, she appears to be in an even more deplorable state than you right now.

"What is it...?" You see her silhouette placing both hands on her nose and she sniffles.
It would make sense for her to get sick in this weather, but that's also a perfect excuse for her to not show her face... If the monster was stealing people's memories to learn how to act more humanly, would he be able to properly lie in the span of a few weeks? He can't possibly evolve so rapidly, can he?
Is there anything you can ask to Farnese that would make you instantly know that she was indeed Farnese?

>Do you feel like you're forgetting something?
>Have you seen someone without a face recently?
>Why didn't you tell me you were sick?
>Still ruminating about what happened?
>Do you mind showing me your face for a bit?
>I bet you look wonderful today.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5251311
>Do you feel like you're forgetting something?
>>
>>5251311
>"You sound ill - do you need someone to help care for you? It would be remiss of me not to help you when you helped me back at the ball. When I had that terrible flu, remember?"
It's a lie, because at the ball everyone thought we were poisoned with griffith and were throwing up instead. If she catches it, she's the real deal. But if she doesn't...
>>
>>5251311
this>>5251350
>>
>>5251350
+1 to this
>>
>>5251350
Switching to this. +1.
>>
>>5251350
support
>>
>>5251339
>>5251350
>>5251355
>>5251365
"You sound ill - do you need someone to help care for you? It would be remiss of me not to help you when you helped me back at the ball. When I had that terrible flu, remember?" You test her memory to see if Farnese can remember what happened when you first met her.

"Flu...? You had no flu at the ball, Vlad... You went to the infirmary because you were puking red all over the royal carpet..." Farnese thinks back on that day with several pauses. "Your breath was already reeking of alcohol that day, but it got even worse when you saw the falcon... I remember laughing at you when you were gone, that was pretty mean of me... but then I stepped on your puke on the way out and ruined my favourite pair of pink socks, so maybe karma had the last laugh..."

She tells plenty of information from her perspective, a lot of which you didn't know. Though the general gist of the story is correct, you're pretty sure people thought you were puking because of Griffith's poisoning attempt, not because you saw the Behelit's spiritual power and it started having fun with your entrails.

You lift the shortsword behind your side of the curtains, unsure whether to call out for an impostor, or if she's just remembering things wrong because she's frying her brains to even stay up. That day was so vivid on her mind, though, she was thinking about you almost every other day when in the covenant, so her recollections should be told with confidence, to which she very much did.

"I didn't help you that day... Which is why I don't deserve your help now... Several others will get sick until we reach our destination, so medicine should be used sparingly... A little flu won't take me down, and I already have a blanket, unlike people in the back wagons..." The frailty on her voice sounds genuine enough for you to loosen your hard grip on your shortsword.

"A little flu can still kill you if you don't take care of yourself in the freezing cold, Farnese."
"A man came to talk with Serpico a few days earlier... His lover had a chronic infection, and she needed to recover, or else she risked dying because of her poor health... I thought of speaking up, but I didn't want to be selfish... This is what it means, to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others... Like you do... Atchoo! Atch- OW!"

Farnese drops her head back on her blanket, the sound making you worry if she hurt her nape on the woodframe. Maybe she's going a bit too far on her redeeming bully attitude, neglecting herself for the people who she hurt in the past won't do any good if she's in this state in only a few days...

But was it really true that somebody came in and asked Serpico for medicine?
You remember Nina, the girl in the prostitute group sneezing when you were asking her as her lover Joachim carried her in his arms, she was indeed a little sick, but did it look that threatening to Farnese?
>>
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>>5251445
But the medicine was all in your wagon, you would have noticed if something was missing, unless you-

Forgot...

Was perhaps this exchange enough for you to trust the Farnese inside the carriage?

>Go in and take care of her.
>Ask Serpico about the medicine.
>Look for Nina and Joachim.
>>
>>5251446
>"Come to the front wagon with me, Farnese. We'll get you some medicine, it wouldn't be selfish - in truth, I need you to be in your best condition to help with making wards for the caravan, since my Od is in poor condition after the incarnation ceremony. So getting you healthy again is the best way to help everyone else, you see? Besides, I don't want to leave you back here alone with a possible intruder about."
>>
>>5251446
>Go in and take care of her.
>>
>>5251475
Support
>>
>>5251446
>Go in and take care of her.
>>
>>5251475
>>5251507
>>5251576
"Come to the front wagon with me, Farnese. We'll get you some medicine-" You enter the wagon and see Farnese's limbs bent at odd angles, even under the blankets, you can see that she's trembling and convulsing from high fever. Her forehead was as hot as a lit match and she reeked of sweat. The blanket was too thick to let any heat dissipate, so it only helped to worsen her condition. She needed treatment as soon as possible!

"Damn it, Farnese. Get over here!" You roll her up on a thinner sheet and place her on your back. It's amazing the amount of tomfoolery you let her get away with...
One step out of the wagon is already enough to tell that you can't carry a atom weight body like Farnese's on your back, making you wobble in place as you try not to collapse on the floor and give her another concussion.
"What's the matter, partner? Any luck with the monster?" Hyde shows up to lift her up with Serpico.
"No, but Farnese was sick and didn't tell anybody, can any of you help me take her to my wagon?"

"Sure." Serpico volunteers. "Hyde, I left some cold medicine with the ladies of the night, would you mind seeing if they have some spare?"
"No problem, was nice meeting with you though, I'll treat you to a drink when we're in Ilos." Hyde excuses himself after making a trip to Nina's wagon.

"Nice guy. Wouldn't shut up about his wife, but I can tell he's well intentioned, almost feel bad about sending him to the whorehouse."Serpico takes Farnese's head while you hold her feet up to your wagon. At least you're able to hold half her weight now...

"So I guess we can confirm that no impersonator is in our group." Serpico says after placing her down.
"Maybe, but I still think there's a chance he could be nearby. The weather will stay this way until early morning hours, you think we should risk a few more steps?"
"I'd say so, but then somebody would have to stay awake for the night, and given the rotation order, today would be my day."
"I could try staying on GP's saddle, if you're feeling tired. Not like I'm getting much sleep, anyway-"
"You're not going anywhere, Serpico..." A half-awake Farnese pulls you by the shoulders onto the floor as you fall on the sheets with her.

"...I'll just ask Hyde about it later. Just go to sleep, I hear people sleep better when you're snuggling with your significant other." Serpico withdraws, picking up that the best way for you both to rest under his eye would be to stay in the same spot.

"But what about the attacker?" You ask him as he ignores the sound of your voice. If the thought of getting sweaty under the blankets with Farnese ever crossed your mind, you weren't expecting it to work out like this! You've pretty much done every sexual activity with Farnese without it actually being sexy...
"Serpico?! Serpico, where did you goooo...?" Farnese whines to herself, shaking your back instead of her knight's.
>>
>>5251669
She's still intensely burning up, and with one roll of her eyelids to check on her dilated pupils, you confirm that she's having some mental confusion from this whole ordeal, barely waking up from her head hitting the floor.

"Come baaack!" You feel Farnese shoving you over as she slurs her words and attempts to stand up to reach Serpico's back.
"What kind of lazy ass knight lets his mistress die from sickness inside another man's tent?"

"I am taking this situation as seriously as possible and doing what I can: Waiting for Hyde to come back." Serpico counts the vials in the medicine pouch and observes if there's anything he can mix and give to Farnese. "You, however, are the one trying to lift an adult woman over your shoulders when you can't even swing your halberd over your head. Do yourself a favor and keep resting with her while I heat up some water. Pretend I don't exist, if it makes it any easier."

And there goes your chance at finding more clues... Though I guess you could rest your case for now, it's a lot more logical to believe that the Kushan killing, memory wiping entity is further along the road than inside your group. Besides, a chance to have a comfortable good night's sleep with Farnese at your side? Plenty of worse situations to be in.

Now if only her nose wasn't runny and her body smelling like melting wax, maybe she would actually be looking kind of cute, smiling with her eyes closed, hands wrapped over your shoulders as you turn under the sheets and let her lean on your back. Let's just hope you don't get sick along with her...

"S-Serpico? Is that you?" She feels the odd movements around her and pinches your nose and cheeks to confirm your identity. You're not that skinny without your armor, are you?

>Yes, Lady Farnese. It's me.
>You got the wrong guy.
>(Stay silent. Talking to her in that state will only make things awkward when she wakes up.)
>(Write-in.)
>>
>>5251700
>(Stay silent. Talking to her in that state will only make things awkward when she wakes up.)
>>
>>5251700
>>You got the wrong guy.
>>
>>5251700
>You got the wrong guy
>>
>>5251703
Support
>>
>>5251700
>>(Stay silent. Talking to her in that state will only make things awkward when she wakes up.)
>>
>>5251700
>(Stay silent. Talking to her in that state will only make things awkward when she wakes up.)
Just try to fall asleep, they both are really tired.
>>
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>>5251703
>>5251845
>>5251901
>>5251980
You know what? Humoring her in her delusions might be funny, but you feel like you've already been too mean with her today, anything you hear her saying without her consent will make things a lot awkward when she realizes what she just said. Staying silent and pretending you're not here is the smartest move.

"..."
"Don't play stupid with me, Serpico! I know it's you! This is an order! Answer your mistress!" She keeps tugging at your hair and probing your face. If she won't believe that you're you, might as well pretend to be sleeping.

You snore, hoping she believes it.
"I see how it is, you're just jealous that I prefer Vlad over you, isn't it?" Awesome, she's going to keep talking anyway... "After I drank your blood, whipped you for my entertainment and made you kill your mother, I'm ditching you for someone who can actually returns my feelings after I inflicted pain on them."

Farnese did what? That's the first time you're hearing this... Is that the piece of information Serpico didn't want you to know when you first interrogated him on why he endures Farnese's abuse?

"Go ahead, then! I know you never thought of me romantically anyway! Vlad is who I really want! He's the one that I fantasise on marking with scars! He's the one I think about when I f-"

"Shush." You've heard enough. Pressing your finger on her lips, you hear several hums of a filterless Farnese expressing her true emotions of her own volition... sort of. You didn't need to hear all of that anyway. Her voice started to grow weaker as she finally started to rest once more.

Before losing consciousness, however, Farnese reaches over to your cheek and plants a kiss.
"Damn it..." She weeps at her own indecision and lack of self control, snuggling closer like a kid hopping on her father's back. Be it you or him, she really wants her men to suffer for her, even if unconsciously so.
Did she mean to kiss you, or Serpico?

Closing your eyes and taking comfort with her grip on you, you quickly follow suit and drift asleep with her. Looking back on when you would spend your father's money with wenches, the best part wasn't even about the sex, but the times where you could lay in bed with another woman with you, pretending you were cherished, even if you were just another client...

Even if circumstances are wrong, sleeping like this feels very nice...
Awoken by a few nudges on the following day, you notice Serpico silently separating you two to place a hot towel on Farnese's forehead. Handing you a mug of water to clear your throat.

"Feeling any different?" He asks.
"Same old, only difference is the runny nose I got from her."
"Figured you would get sick too... Nina's condition is pretty serious, if it spreads anywhere else, she dies, so it makes sense for her to be mindful of her disease, but if we let her drink all the medicine, what will be left for the others..." Serpico speaks as your mind wanders, still thinking about yesterday.
>>
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>>5252234
"You've been staring at me very intensely today, is there something on my face?" He quickly picks up that your thoughts were related to what Farnese said about his mother, is it worth bringing that up?

>Farnese said something about your past.
>She mistook me for you and kissed me on the cheek.
>Nothing, just wish I was still sleeping.
>>
>>5252237
>Nothing, just wish I was still sleeping.
Lets not involve Serpico in our awkwardness lol.
>>
>>5252237
>>Nothing, just wish I was still sleeping.
>>
>>5252237
>Nothing, just wish I was still sleeping.
>>
>>5252240
>>5252245
>>5252248
"Nothing, just wish I was still sleeping." He did ask for you not to pry into his personal business, so it's best to ask him about this when he actually wants to reveal it.

"A fair assessment, the cold does make you want to sleep for longer." Serpico checks on Farnese's fever. "Better than yesterday, but still not in perfect health. I'd say a few more days of medication would do the trick, but that's where our problem lies... As I was saying, others are starting to fall ill, others with little constitution or many years left on them, if we don't want morale to fall, we should be prioritising the people we promised to care. I might be on neutral terms with Nina, but her friends care a lot for her, and letting her die would bound to make them snap on us."

"Anything else we can use for cold medicine?"
"We can keep them hot and brew some leaves, but that's about it. Unless #4 remembers that he's a doctor, we don't have any with us, and with food being equally rationed to all, we can't prioritise the sick with more than secondary treatment. A day's worth of doses is all we have to share with the sick."

Guess this is the part where you start making the tough decisions...

>I don't need medicine for now and Farnese is already getting better, save it for Nina.
>I want to make sure Farnese doesn't have any relapses.
>Luca's group of girls saved Hyde's life. It's only fair for me to return the gesture.
>I cant just pick the ones I know, try to the medicine dilute it in water and treat the refugees that way.
>>
>>5252295
>I cant just pick the ones I know, try to the medicine dilute it in water and treat the refugees that way.
This way hopefully most people won't die. They will most likely feel like complete shit, but most of them will likely live. When we get back home or find more supplies, we can fix everyone up.
>>
>>5252321
If we dilute it, it can either not work well enough, or not at all. Id rather save some people than lose them all.
>>
>>5252338
Its a big assumption to assume the medicine won't work. It won't be curing anyone certainly, but it gives their natural immune systems a better chance of surviving, at least until we reach home where we can get more and better meds.
>>
>>5252321
>>5252338
>>5252368
Going to ask for a 1d100 to see how well that goes. Hopefully Vlad and the others will be able to recover until the next update!
>>
Rolled 65 (1d100)

>>5252650
>>
Rolled 78 (1d100)

>>5252650
>>
Rolled 45 (1d100)

>>5252650
>>
>>5252670
>>5252677
>>5252687
Nice, sickness isn't even a real thing for Vlad, writing.
>>
>>5252690
The elites don't want you to know this but the behilits at the eclipse are free. I have over 700 behilits at home
>>
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>>5252670
>>5252677
>>5252687
You decided to prioritise absolutely nobody. Doing so would only give room for strangers to say you were being biased, and with self awareness comes the foresight to prevent criticism.
"Can you mix the medicine with more water?"
"I could, but it would greatly reduce it's effectiveness." Serpico can already predict how your next sentence will end with.
"Then we should use it on people who have milder symptoms. Since only Nina and Farnese are really sick, we should focus on stopping anyone from getting to that point and hope the other two could pull through."

"I was hoping you would prioritise Farnese this time... Don't forget what I said a few days earlier." He grimaces.
"Relax, with you and I watching over her, sickness is the only thing that will pass through our watchful eyes."
"I'm not sure if that makes me any more confident..."
"Think of it this way: Compared to the spirits we've faced thanks to Mozgus and Femto, the only thing that Farnese got hit with was an enemy invisible to the naked and the astral eye. We're doing a phenomenal job at protecting her."
"...Nope. Still not feeling any confidence."
"Everyone's a critic..."

Surprisingly, the plan went better than expected, all you had to do was tell the sick to move to a dedicated wagon and tell the healthy to share their blankets. With the coldest days giving way to a more comfortable temperature, travelling without losses was more than feasible.

Even Farnese got better in due time, only getting some mild headaches, but quickly going back to her wagon with no comment about what happened that day. Either she forgot about it, or she won't comment until she gets out of her ruminating phase.

Since you made your way into a misty village to look for Guts, and you were doing your best to avoid trees given that's where you've last seen signs of the faceless entity, your route back to Ilos had to go off course into a higher altitude, and when trying to course correct, you got lost on a snowy hill surrounded by a forest a few days later.

"Finding a way down is going to be a bitch with this snow..." Hyde remarks on how the abundance of white could make people walk straight into their falls.
"We don't really have time to go find a way down, do we? Unless you want to slide to your death on that canyon over there."
"It doesn't look that steep, maybe if you fly a few people down carefully- You look down to see how bad the climb would be, only to shiver at the gust of wind from a flying creature going above you. and into the clouds.
>>
>>5252799

As if guided by causality itself, you were led straight to Griffith and Zodd, seeing both demons attached to each other as they went to the direction of Midland's capital city.
Whatever made him stop there, it had to be important to him. Femto wouldn't reincarnate to go in the middle of nowhere to impress nobody.
You held your need to sense for Od near him, but you were sure of it. Someone he knew had to be down that hill, were it consider you friend or foe is another story...

>Investigate where Griffith landed.
>Stay focused and get back on track.
>Follow Zodd's direction.
>>
>>5252802
>Investigate where Griffith landed.
>>
>>5252802
>Stay focused and get back on track.
No thank you I will not be meeting the anti-christ this day, we have sick people and getting them back home ASAP is all that matters.
>>
>>5252802
>>Stay focused and get back on track.
>>
>>5252812
>>5252825
>>5252827
One last roll to find a way back down and we'll get back to Ilos. 1d100+10 since Vlad is good at rock climbing and can instruct people how to climb down safely.
>>
Rolled 92 + 10 (1d100 + 10)

>>5252866
>>
>>5252868
go home boys no rolls needed these rocks can't escape our firm grip now
>>
>>5252868
Wellp, guess we're really eager to get back to Ilos then...
>>
Rolled 21 + 10 (1d100 + 10)

>>5252866
>>
Rolled 9 + 10 (1d100 + 10)

>>5252866
>>
>>5252868
...Nice try, Femto. Unlike Guts, you won't fall for his provocative entrances.
"Hyde, you got a rope?"
"Don't leave the wagon without one, why?"
"Since we don't have the time to make a bridge, a zip line should do the trick, that spot over there looks a lot safer, if we can close the gap without losing any of the wagons, we should get an easy shortcut back to the open road."

"Are you sure we can get back there?"
"If there's one thing I'm sure about, it's rocks. The only hard part should be putting the horses and wagons there without them snapping, but that's what your harpy is for, right?"

"I'm calling child abuse on your ass..." He frowns, but obliges, looking for some rope and making an improvised zip line that could support the weight of the wagons, and with a few hours and a test run with an empty wagon, all Hyde's harpy had to do was slow the fall down and gravity did the work for her, not even needing to worry about people who were too weak or hungry to walk so long as they stayed indoors.
#4 was the first to go, and after taking care of each and every wagon, you effectively turned around a week's worth of travelling into an afternoon's, going back into familiar paths with little issue except for when recounting the survivors.

"...Where is #4? He didn't answer when we called for him."
"Last time I saw him, he said he was going out to take a piss, didn't he come back?"

Wasting a few minutes going around the rocks, you see a pool of frozen blood hidden way further back, and hoping it wasn't #4 you rush onto him to find a group of younger travellers, presumably the people he was looking for.

"#4... I'm sorry you had to see this..." You crouch over to him, who was observing the face of someone with a striking resemblance to his facial features.

"His name was Franz. He knew his father was in no condition to fight, so he banded with the younger men of his commune to battle against the Kushan. The older members of the family were sad, so we took away the memories that made them sad. The Kushan were tired of travelling, so we took away ability to feel tired. Now, we have found the reason Franz's father was so sad. There was no way for him to know that his son was dead, being so distant from him, yet his guess was correct." A faceless double of #4 turns around, with the real one collapsing next to his father as you stagger backwards with your cane, seeing the entity growing a pair of horns.
>>
>>5252987
"All pieces of the puzzle were found, but the image made clear was a grim one. The father could not stand to see his son's death, so we helped him forget everything once more. This time, forever."

The creature expectantly extended a hand, wanting to reach your face as it walked slowly towards your direction.
"Everything in this world happens for a reason. Cause is tied to the effects. If we were released from the eternal abyss, a reason is bound to exist."

"The Falcon Of Light has told us so: Our reason to be can only be you."
"So that was what Griffith came down here for?" You keep backing away, but the creature still follows.
"We do not remember who we were in physical bodies. We have passed on for so long, that our memories were long destroyed. Day after day, we have stolen emotions, names, identities, yet we have not found our own, no reason to live, to care, to believe. Only you can tell us who we are-"

"Vlad! You there, partner?" Hyde comes over to see you, and when he shows up to the scene of the crime, the abyssal entity is nowhere to be found.

After explaining what happened to the hunter, he appears to believe your story and understand it thoroughly, but had absolutely no clue on how to deal with it.

"The wandering spirit is chasing you now? Well, you can't exactly outrun it now given how it's been near us since the start of the trip, and if it can hide away in plain sight like that... I'd reckon we'll just have to be ready for when it finally decides to attack. If it didn't attack any of us all this time, then it's either not that aggressive, or it's waiting for the perfect opportunity."

Worrying over when the perfect opportunity will arrive is something that consumes your mind for the next week, even altering your nightmares so the same one you've been having before turns into a silent play, where no one talks, no one has a face, and you get consumed by the light without proper explanation.

Thankfully, the trail to the open part of the map made it easier for Hyde to hunt with Serpico while you rested plenty, pretty much letting them take the lead now that the worst of it was dealt with. You had to prioritise your health eventually, and it paid off by your body healing completely, while your soul was still complaining about you not being healed like if you were an old man with osteoporosis: Fine on the outside, frail on the inside.

Nevertheless, you finally see the outer walls of Ilos, the familiar sight of Barnham's creation brings a smile to your face. There are a lot of things you wish to do here and they will all take a considerable amount of time.
What should take priority?

>Look for Barnham.
>Lodge the refugees.
>Introduce your mother to Farnese.
>Visit Bernard and commission some new armor.
>>
>>5252999
>Lodge the refugees.
>Introduce your mother to Farnese
>>
>>5252999
>Lodge the refugees.
>Introduce your mother to Farnese.
>>
>>5252999
>Lodge the refugees.
then
>Look for Barnham.
in that order.
>>
>>5252999
>Lodge the refugees.
>Introduce your mother to Farnese.
Family first before apostle friend.
>>
>>5252999
>Lodge the refugees.
>Introduce your mother to Farnese.
>>
>>5252999
>>Lodge the refugees.
>>Introduce your mother to Farnese
>>
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>>5253013
>>5253038
>>5253073
>>5253113
>>5253132
>>5253141
Making sure the refugees were all safe and sound, you make an effort to hear what they all thought of the journey as you lodged them in the outer part of the coliseum, where the lower class and non-combatants would usually stay.

"Only one man died during the entire journey!? That's miraculous! You're our savior!"
"I couldn't be more grateful over your help, mister!"
"I was about to curse you for the journey, but then my aunt pulled through and recovered from the cold, so thanks a lot!"
"I'm going to name my kid after you, could you tell me your name, please?"

High ratings throughout, but you wonder if that faithfulness will stick in harder times.
"You should pat yourself on the back for this one, partner! This place really feels like a safe haven compared to where we last were. Hope you don't mind me spending time with Jodi and the kids for a while. Just look for any of the girls flying if you need me again."

"Dismissed." You wave at the hunter after completing the crusade back to Ilos, he's an useful person to have around, but you wonder if staying away from his family for long would be a detriment for his mood. Still getting used to call the harpies his daughters, will he actually get a human one someday?

Going over to Michelle's house with Farnese, you see the girl staring sheepishly towards the floor on her way to the bridge. She still wants to be silent even after all the time has passed, but the pressure of the situation made you want to hear her voice for a bit.

"Barnham should be with my money now, just tell me how much I owe you and I'll pay you back once I get my hands on the loot."
"...You don't have to pay me..." Farnese shakes her head.
"What are you talking about? The stops throughout were pretty expensive. I know you're rich, but returning the gesture is common courtesy."
"Budgeting was the only reason I was remotely useful in this journey. Now that it's over, you're free to choose what to do with the money you owe me."
"Alright, how much was it?"
"Around 25 gold coins? The wagons cost a lot more than the food and medicine."

This is not much compared to the fortune you should have at this point...
"It's not a big deal, really. Let me pay you back."
"I insist! I have already burdened you enough, and there's not much else I can do to help you now..."

>You're not a burden, you're a work in progress.
>Alright then, if you insist...
>If I'm free to choose as I wish, then I choose to pay you.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5253455
>If I'm free to choose as I wish, then I choose to pay you.
>>
>>5253455
>If I'm free to choose as I wish, then I choose to pay you.
Be nice to Farny
>>
>>5253455
>If I'm free to choose as I wish, then I choose to pay you.
>>
>>5253455
>If I'm free to choose as I wish, then I choose to pay you.
>>
>>5253455
>>If I'm free to choose as I wish, then I choose to pay you.
>>
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>>5253472
>>5253473
>>5253484
>>5253486
"If I'm free to choose as I wish, then I choose to pay you. If you feel bad about it, try to remind yourself that I couldn't save them without your help."

"That's not true! Your leadership is what guided us forward."
"Leadership doesn't fill people's stomachs. This is on you." You place a hand on her shoulder and smile, making her blush as she returns the expression.
"You're too kind..."
"Wait here, I want to talk with my mother for a bit before introducing you."
"Do you think she'll like me?" She tilts her head, indicating that she did want to know more about her since they had the panic from the loss of their religion in common, seeking approval from a feminine figure.
"I imagine she'll be in for a shocker..." You enter as Farnese leans on the entrance walls. How will your mother react to being visited by a Vandimion, several years after losing her noble status and living as a commoner?

"Mom? I'm back!"
"Vlad? Oh, welcome home, son!" Your mother ecstatically greets you with a hug as you hear the familiar tune of Benny's flute further in the house.
"How's the farming business?"
"Oh, you know, postponed. The winter froze most of the lake, so watering and planting is harder on my back, thankfully Bernard and the other non combatants help us every now and then. I also managed to get some money from betting at the gladiator ring to feed the others here. I'm not very good at guessing the victor, but I win enough times to get by."

"Seems like being a merchant serves as an instruction guide to being a breadwinner." You chuckle.
"Not so much, your father earned a lot more than I did, you know how the Holy See treated you when you bent to their will." You sense contempt in her words when she mentions the organisation, still feeling bitter at their betrayal.

>Is Barnham back from his mission?
>Was the money from my estate secured?
>Are Benny and Zhafira doing ok?
>There's someone I would like you to meet...
>Write-in.
>>
>>5253532
>Are Benny and Zhafira doing ok?
>Is Barnham back from his mission?
>There's someone I would like you to meet...
>>
>>5253532
>Are Benny and Zhafira doing ok?
>Is Barnham back from his mission?
>Was the money from my estate secured?
>How's Bernard? How about the people in general? Are they sick, hungry, anything they need help with?
>>
>>5253532
>Are Benny and Zhafira doing ok?
>Is Barnham back from his mission?
>There's someone I would like you to meet...
>>
>>5253542
>>5253544
>>5253565
"Is Barnham back from his mission?"
"Not yet, his Kushan counsellor Kalki is the one taking care of the ring for now. He said Barnham would arrive a few days later with his troop, Kalki just had to get here earlier because he wanted to give us our money back."

"How thoughtful of him. Did you get it yet?"
"Yes, it's right under the mattress, would you mind following me over to my bed?" Michelle closes the windows and pulls a chest from under some furniture, showing half of the money in the chest and the rest on her bed.

"You put half of it away from the container?"
"Well, I wanted to make sure no one would steal the entire quantity of your fortune if they just stumbled across this chest. The whole ordeal was very confidential, he delivered it inside a giant barrel saying it was just water, so you can imagine my shock."

Counting how much money you had, it came to a sum of over 140 coins, taking a fistful of it to repay Farnese.
Current Money in hand: 120 gold coins.

"Oh, you're already thinking of spending it?"
"I lost my money fighting in Albion, but someone helped me get back here with a big group, figured I should pay her back now that it's all done with."
"...Her? A girl, Vlad?" Michelle sighs. "Look, I'm not going to pull at your ear for being obsessed with the opposite sex like your father did, but if you want to shag with some girl you just met, it's not going to be in his house."

"What? No, mom!"
"Yes, 'mom'! There are kids here! Well, Benny is not that young, but I'm not comfortable with letting you do those filthy acts in the light of day."
"I'm not that guy anymore..." You blush with a hand in your forehead. Your parents really do remember your worst mistakes. "Speaking of Benny, how is he? Anything the people here need help with?"

"I've been trying to encourage the poor to get more money in the ring if they feel like gambling, but most of them have no idea on who's going to win as well, so they all-in on a fight and lose it all a lot of the times. Some of them can't even get in, given how vindictive the fighters are against the weak. Barnham might have changed his mind and turned more lenient, but he still created a culture of the weak bowing their head to the strong. That will probably last for a lot longer than you and I." Michelle informs.

"Good thing I'm a lord here, someone strong enough to defend them should make them weary of attacking the little."
"At least they extended the gesture and didn't come after me. Kalki seems to obey by Barnham's rules, so if he was told not to harm me, I have nothing to worry about. The cold has made a few people pass on from sickness and the smaller crops means more people will get hungry, but you have nothing to worry about, son. Your mother isn't so old she can't take care of a few straw bale houses in her retirement yet."
>>
>>5253651
"What about Bernard? Is he still doing weapons and armor against his will?"
"We've tried finding a substitute smith, but none of them really fit his calibre. Despite not liking the job, truth is he got reluctantly skilled with it, so he's been busy instructing those who don't have to work under a leash to do just as well as he did under pressure."
"That's a shame, I remember him being so happy with the possibility of doing more dolls with Zhafira."

"Zhafira's mind... Isn't all up there, really. She tried doing a handstand on a pile of glass and forgot she only had one hand not too long ago, we had to restrict her to her bed so she wouldn't be a danger to herself. Even her notes were starting to look like scribbles as her handwriting got worse-"

Benny's flute sounds more and more sour as he blows harder on the instrument, clearly overhearing the conversation and being bothered by recollecting his sister's health, but not wanting to join in the conversation and stammer his way through words.

"Why don't we change the subject for now...?" Michelle feels apprehensive as she understands Benny's not to silent pleads.
"Sure, I wanted to introduce you to said friend who helped me along the way... Farnese?"
"Farnese?" Your mother recognises the name, but doubts that it's the same Farnese from the Vandimion family until she sees her face.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Santana. If possible, I would like to have a word with you about something we have in common." Farnese greets her with a bow.
"...I was not expecting the leader of the Holy Iron Knight Chains to visit me. What is it that we both have in common?"
"I have recently renounced my religion. Surely the one who raised a wise son such as yourself would understand how frightful the feeling is. I would like to know more about your experience, how you escaped the pit of despair and ascended without God when you didn't have a substitute pedestal to follow at your side." Farnese refers to you, giving you as much respect as she did to God before.
>>
>>5253739
"Why would I tell you that? My family doesn't owe you anything after you refused to protect us from the rebels." Michelle already makes it clear that she's not fond of Farnese by affiliation. "Everything our family went through was thanks to your enforced culture. We were deeply loyal to the Royal Family and The See, yet where were you when my son was persecuted, when his parents were tortured, when our house was demolished?"

"I-I understand why you would hold a grudge, and I can't do much other than apologise for the past, but there is something I thought I could do for you both that-" Farnese starts to stumble on her words, but gets interrupted by a fierce rebuttal.
"You could throw me all the money in the world, and I still wouldn't want to see your face ever again. Don't bother with reparations, I despise you, and holding yourself accountable won't change what I think of you!"

The conversation is already escalating to emotionally charged territory. Your mother isn't just holding a grudge at Farnese, she's had her fist closed ever since Farnese alluded to her past. Jacopo's death was likely the biggest period of suffering in her life, and one that she had to endure alone. Starting right with that line would immediately diminish Farnese's intentions before she could even explain what she had to say.

Michelle does have a point, though? What could Farnese even do for your mother that would be acceptable as an apology?

>Intervene, side with Farnese.
>Interven, side with your mother.
>Let them talk it out.
>>
>>5253741
>Intervene, side with Farnese.
Its not Farnese's fault that the culture mom hates exists, she just blindly follows it like everyone else, and how could she do anything other than follow? Everything she's ever done has been done for the reasons of those she's been taught to follow unquestioningly.

Plus didn't dad and our family do kinda the same? When was the last time dad or mom helped someone who went against the statues quo? All the nobles, including our family, followed the See and kingdom to survive. To go against their will would be suicide. Both of them, mom and dad, re-enforced the culture that the See and the king created at one point. No one is free of guilt, all we can do now is work together towards a future where that kind of culture ceases to exist.
>>
>>5253741
>>Let them talk it out.
Let the women do women things
>>
>>5253741
>Let them talk it out.
If things goes out of hand
>Interviene, not siding with anyone

I like >>5253775 approach, but not the whole thing of taking Farnese's side. The See and all that bullshit they brought is done by The Godhand, it's some bullshit to control people and use that dreams shit to make propaganda to Griffith.

If no one decided to oppose the Royal Family before all the shit that The See made, there's no reason to keep up with that. Mom can be mad all what she wants, and doesn't have to forgive Farnese because her shitty family didn't help them (after all, they're an upper level than us, and of course are assholes), but Farnese couldn't do anything because a). Farnese was just a child when that happened and of course she wasn't going to be listened, and 2). The one mom should hate is her father, because at the end it was the one who decided don't do shit after all those years
>>
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>>5253775
>>5253796
>>5253885
Farnese might be bad at expressing herself, but she's had half a month to prepare for this speech, you'll only intervene if your mom snaps, which she isn't inclined to do.

"It's not fair to hate on me just because of my family name! I played no part in the political decisions of the Vandimions from generations ago-"

"Fair? How can you say that with a straight face? You were chosen as the Holy Lady of the Chain Knights! There is no way you didn't know of their terms! Even a low ranked name such as the Santanas were aware of the antithetical actions of Chief Inquisitor Mozgus! It's why my late husband opted out of the major fundings and conspiracies such as the plan to end The Falcons. We already had a guilty conscience of loving a son who the world would regard as a cursed child, aiding them and gaining allies from The See would only make them pry further into our business!"

"I am not condoning the actions of my past!" Farnese's voice cracks as her eyes start to water. "Yes, I killed several people under Mozgus' command, but he's no longer in control of me! Why are we even having this argument if both our families were responsible for spreading these values?"

"Some are more responsible than others. Of course I say this now, after my family being persecuted, but you were the ones who profited the most from this propaganda. You are only now apologising because it went full-circle and now these pagan burning practices are starting to eat your own! How is it that I am living with more freedom of expression in a newly reformed slum in an apostle province than in a luscious estate in the capital?"

"If you're still suffering over the consequences of my actions, let me clear your name!" Farnese finally proposes what she meant to ask for the two of you. "Hated by my family or not, I'm still a Vandimion! If I once had the power to burn down an entire village with the sway of my hand, I should at least use my power for good! To let one family be redeemed back into their former glory!"

"How many families do you know that got back into noble status after Vritannis pointed one finger to them? This past is far behind us and there is nothing you can do to change it. Your actions are nothing more than preformative, why would you care about me and Vlad, but not all the others you killed?"

"VLAD GAVE MEANING TO MY LIFE!" Farnese blurts out. "He's the only one in a hall full of aristocrats to treat me like a regular girl, instead of a monster or a stairway to power! I have repeatedly attempted to ruin his life, and all he did back to me was save me from the darkness of my own mind! I trust him more than I trust myself, and I know that I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him! He can guide us to a life where we're truly free, clearing his name and giving him a permit to travel freely out of Midland is the least I can do! I know my words are worthless, but my actions can still be grand like his!"
>>
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>>5254059
...Well that was a confession and a half. Farnese just proposed to run with you to the other side of the planet. Even she is somewhat shocked by what she just said, you can only hope she'll be as daring by your side as she is in this conversation.

Michelle's jaw is agape, her mind unravelling itself to even think of what to respond...

"I don't know how you came up with this idea, but I dont plan on going anywhere... This is my new life, I have come to terms with it. Vlad isn't interested in having a castle that rivals the old king, either... He already has a place to stay and fight for right here. We have done plenty, it's time to rest, so give up on your dreams and let your journey end as is, Farnese."

Your mother answers Farnese for you, expecting you to side with her. While it's true that you could end things here and live a peaceful life with Farnese while defending Ilos from intruders and monsters alike, eventually your bubble would burst thanks to the needle of causality. It would be temporary happiness with your family, but one that would last a lot longer than going out and challenging Griffith by yourself, provided that you did reach the levels of Guts and The Skull Knight to fight causality with them, you could always die way before finding Sivir's casket, or even before getting into a boat. Your mother is already growing old, so you even if she could use that hoe she carries around to defend herself, she's not exactly in prime conditions to fight apostles.

"Vlad, surely you wouldn't agree to this nonsense, would you?"
"This is the first time I'm hearing of her plan myself, but now that I've lent an ear to her, I believe..."

>Her plan is sound, we shall prove the Vandimions wrong.
>Her heart is misguided, we should stay where we are.
>>
>>5254091
>Her plan is sound, we shall prove the Vandimions wrong.
>”Evil prevails when good men do nothing. I cannot be idle in mankind’s hour of need, no matter how much I would want to stay here and live in moderate peace. Even if my journey takes me into the jaws of hell, it would be so that I can run the devil himself through the heart.”
>>
>>5254091
>Her plan is sound, we shall prove the Vandimions wrong.
>>
>>5254112
+1 Well spoken
>>
>>5254112
support
>>
>>5254112
"Her plan is sound, we shall prove the Vandimions wrong."
"A-Are you serious?" Michelle gasps.
"Vlad..." Farnese smiles after seeing you taking her side.
”Evil prevails when good men do nothing. I cannot be idle in mankind’s hour of need, no matter how much I would want to stay here and live in moderate peace. Even if my journey takes me into the jaws of hell, it would be so that I can run the devil himself through the heart.”
"...What would drive you to do such things? What more could you ask than what we have right now?"

"That every man, woman and child can be freed from the shackles of fate, and live whatever life they wish to. It's the smile I get from seeing someone genuinely content with their lives that drives me forward, more than any semblance of power waved to me." You look over to Farnese, who smiled unconsciously.

Michelle meets your gaze, avoiding your eyes after your face reminded her of Jacopo's.
"That look... It's the same as your father's that day, when he was losing his toes and nails... The torturer said he would either hear our family name, or have my body be raped by their men... And that's when your father spoke up..."

"I am not giving either one of my family members to you Tudor fiends. Tell you what, if any of you can make me scream as you yank my teeth out, you can have it your way!"

"It was a ridiculous gamble, one that I could not believe he would do, yet with teeth after teeth being removed, all he did was stare back at his torturer. Even while cornered and with no possible escape, he endured the pain silently, as if he was the one inflicting it onto others... It's the same intimidating look against much larger foes..."

"Mrs. Santana... I'm so sorry to hear that."
"Don't be. Imagine yourself on that situation instead. Would you be able to do that for the ones you loved. To look at death in the eyes and make it afraid of you?"
"N-No... I can't..." Farnese weeps at Michelle's feet, understanding the pain your family went through as it was her own. Your mother is wide opened at the sight of a higher class woman bowing down to her feet, but it's enough to recognise that perhaps she has been a bit too harsh of Farnese and eases up on her judgement.

"Alright... I can tell I'm not getting my point across if I'm making a girl lower than half my age wash my feet with her tears... If Vlad saw potential in you, then who am I to judge you unfit when I can't change his mind? Just don't get him into trouble, or I will give you the wallop your parents never bothered to give you!" Michelle threatens Farnese, making you conveniently omit the time where she tied you up to mark you with burns.

>Compliment Farnese on her courage.
>Have a meal and discuss your plans.
>Look for Benny and his sister.
>Leave the house and have a word with Kalki.
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>>5254410
>Have a meal and discuss your plans.
>>
>>5254410
>>Look for Benny and his sister.
>>
>>5254410
>>Look for Benny and his sister.
>>
>>5254410
>Compliment Farnese on her courage.
>Have a meal and discuss your plans.
>>
>>5254410
>Look for Benny and his sister.
>>
>>5254410
>Look for Benny and his sister.
Let's see how they're doing.
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>>5254537
>>5254574
>>5254684
>>5254770
>>5254949
>>5255502
Letting the girls get to know each other after the initial clash of hostility will be rough, but as much as your mother might be weary of Farnese, you won't stay for long enough for them to do more than tolerate each other.

Benny was very expectant of being taken under your wing to learn how to train, given how he's been practising how to throw darts with something he's already practised with: A blowing instrument.
What you see instead is a boy deeply dissatisfied with his own progress. Several darts are scattered around a target with only a few hitting anywhere near the mark. His blowpipe is snapped in two, likely from the frustration of not learning how to fight as well as he knows how to play the flute, and now he sits huddled up in a corner, playing a repetitive, hypnotic music. The way he hits the notes without confidence and switches from sharps to flats in his progression make the rhythm very depressive overall.

Breaking your rule not to abuse of your magical abilities, you make an effort to hear his mind so he his speech impediment doesn't get the best of him when trying to express himself on such a depressive moment of his life.

"What's the matter, Benny?"
"I couldn't do it... I couldn't hit any of the targets... I said I wanted to travel with you and learn how to defend my family, but I can't defend them from something that I can't fight..."
"Michelle told me about Zhafira... Where is she?"
"On the double bed... Someone has to keep an eye out for her after her condition worsened... She forgot all about the things that happened when you showed up, and only responds to me and dad... Cindy isn't even a name she knows... Dad was so happy last time you were here, they started writing a story together for her next puppet show, Cindy started noting everything down to continue the story the following day, but when we asked her about the story later... She just forgot it, despite writing it all on her notes... It's like they were never there..."


"..." You think of something to say to comfort him, but the words escape you, only looking at the child who has no hope of seeing his own progression.

"Maybe if she died swiftly, it wouldn't be so bad, but seeing her slowly forget who she is... It's so unfair, Vlad. She doesn't even remember the song she taught me with her singing voice... I try to make her repeat it in whistles since she's always happy to see me, but she always forgets the following day! I can't hit a dart to save my life, but even if I did, none of them would fix her mind! What's the point in fighting? Playing music is all I know, and so far it hasn't lead me anywhere."

>Drop the sword then, fighting just isn't your thing, and that's ok.
>I can't guarantee your safety if you don't know the basics.
>I know it's painful, but you should stick with your sister in her time of need.
>Do you mind if I see her? Her condition wasn't this bad when I left.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5255649
>"Nothing worth doing is easy my boy, While I'm still here I can help you train a bit more, but think on this. If a fish can't climb a tree is there anything wrong with the fish? Some people just aren't able to learn a skill, and that is nothing to take shame in."
>I know it's painful, but you should stick with your sister in her time of need.
>Do you mind if I see her? Her condition wasn't this bad when I left.
>>
>>5255649
>Do you mind if I see her? Her condition wasn't this bad when I left.
>>
>>5255649
>>Do you mind if I see her? Her condition wasn't this bad when I left.
>>
>>5255649
>>Do you mind if I see her? Her condition wasn't this bad when I left.
>>
>>5255649
>I know it's painful, but you should stick with your sister in her time of need.
>Do you mind if I see her? Her condition wasn't this bad when I left.


>>5255703
+1 to this.
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>>5255649
>Do you mind if I see her? Her condition wasn't this bad when I left.
this too>>5255703
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>>5255703
>>5255814
>>5255817
>>5255844
>>5255853
"Nothing worth doing is easy my boy, While I'm still here I can help you train a bit more, but think on this. If a fish can't climb a tree is there anything wrong with the fish? Some people just aren't able to learn a skill, and that is nothing to take shame in. You're great doing your own talents, and just like learning the flute, it's a practice that takes time to master. I know nothing about music theory, for example, that's something you have over me."

"But you wanted to get better at fighting when you started, and I don't! Even if I was great at using that blowpipe, what would that even help you with? You fought Barnham without any help, what's throwing a few darts at a guy like him going to do?"
"But I wasn't alone there, I had my trusty horse Gunpowder to secure my victory. If you aren't strong by yourself, maybe an army of you would be more effective."
"An army of me?"
"That's what armies are for. Not everyone has the strength to take down an empire, but fuel enough people into your cause, and even someone with lacklustre experience could take the credit for contributing into a fight."
"Or I could just do nothing to help and ride off of your victories... And that's if I don't hit someone accidentally or find a way to kill myself."


He still has a very defeatist attitude on his non existent results in fights, so it could be very worrying to lead him into combat. At least Farnese showed some promise in magic and planned a few things around with her money, and unlike Serpico, Benny's older sibling won't be a valuable asset either.

"Do you mind if I see Cindy? Her condition wasn't this bad when I left, and I want to make sure that she won't wander into danger in case I do invite you on my group..."
"O-ok..." He slouches over and walks to the locked door on his room, seeing Zhafira with no makeup giggling to herself.

"Benny!" She recognises her dearest brother opening the door, making a few rustling motions while her arms where still strapped to the bed. "Come here so I can give you a big ol' hug, will you?"
"S-Si-Sis... Y-You can't hug me, your arms are t-t-ied down."
"But my arms are right here!" She rustles some more, thinking she has her arms raised up.
"J-J-just give me your hand..."
"I am!" she opens her palms while they were still tied to her torso.
"Wh-Where?"
"Right here!" Her neck motions to the empty space in front of her, which Benny clasps so she can pretend they're having contact.

Her smile is genuine, but Benny's forceful grin is just making him more dead inside with each passing second.
>>
>>5256250
"Do you remember me, Zhafira?" You try to get her attention.
"I'm sorry, sir! I think this is the first time we're seeing each other. Would you mind telling me your name?" You'd think she would remember someone who changed her surroundings so greatly.
"...It's Vlad."
"Ok! I'll write it down! I hope you can come to my show eventually, It's happening in the next--" Her wrists gyrate in place to simulate the act of writing, but once she tries to remember further than what her brain lets on, she stares blankly into the air, recomposing herself only when she starts giggling again.

Zhafira is barely a few levels above Casca in terms of cognition, and with Benny being a terrible shot, he expectantly awaits for you to reject him.
"Y-You promised to let us come with you, b-b-ut I won't hate you if you didn't l-l-let us in. W-We have nothing to offer you."

>You're still invited, but I can't vouch for Zhafira's safety.
>Sorry Benny, I'm in need people who can fend off for themselves.
>Even if it's risky, I would rather bring you both with me than separating you two.
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>>5256252
>Sorry Benny, I'm in need people who can fend off for themselves.
having two casca's is a recipe for disaster
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>>5256321
I agree, things out on the road will only get worse later, and these two are in no condition to travel with us now.
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>>5256252
>I'm going to be honest with you, Benny. The last time I went somewhere, it was with incredibly tough and well-trained people at my side. I had my ass handed to me on a platter, and walked out of the incarnation ceremony looking like I was the chewtoy of Cerberus himself, both physically and spiritually. Which is why...
>Sorry Benny, I'm in need people who can fend off for themselves.
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>>5256252
>Sorry Benny, I'm in need people who can fend off for themselves.
There is encouraging the boy and his sister, and then there's allowing them to endanger their lives. They are a danger to themselves, us, and the rest of the group if we let them come. I would rather have him hate us and live, than let him come and die.
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>>5256321
>>5256370
>>5256384
>>5256435
"I'm going to be honest with you, Benny. The last time I went somewhere, it was with incredibly tough and well-trained people at my side. I had my ass handed to me on a platter, and walked out of the incarnation ceremony looking like I was the chew-toy of Cerberus himself, both physically and spiritually. Which is why... I'm in need people who can fend off for themselves. I'm sorry Benny, you just don't fit into that criteria."

"I-i-I knew it from the start... The world is not ready to accept us l-l-little people... The only thing I have to look forward to is to see C-C-Cindy get worse as time goes on."

"I would help you in her condition if I knew of some sort of cure, but if he didn't find one, I'm not sure I have much to offer for treatment..." You think back to Guts, who finally reunited with Casca, but still had no clue on what to do, or even if it was possible to restore her memory.

"I-I- didn-didn't ask f-f-for much... I-I-I just wanted her to b-b-be safe! Wh-Why I-Is this the clo-closest resemblance of p-peace I've ever h-h-ad? It's e-empty! An empty promise! Th-There's nothing here for m-me to feel happy about!" Benny bawls and shoves you away after hearing he wouldn't be invited. Even if he didn't want to fight, he did wish to be part of something grander than himself, something that would maybe give him hope towards a good cause. After seeing all the magic you are able to do, maybe he thought fixing Cindy would be something you could wish a snap of your fingers.

Why do you feel so bad for him, even if there's nothing you could do to him?
"Benny, I-"
"N-No!" The dejected pupil runs off, asking you to let him cope with the news. Perhaps it's best to leave him alone for a bit. Ilos is safe enough for him to walk around without fear now. It's the most you can do for him. In a world where fighting is mandatory, the one who just wants to spread his art across the world feels truly useless in ever seeing his dream come to fruition.
"The King is coming... Benny will stop crying when he shows up!" Cindy mumbles to herself in bed. Her delusions of the king coming to Ilos to help her were always very weird and nonsensical, surely she knows that the king is dead by now, right?

...Or maybe the king she mentions is the one who sill suceed Princess Charlotte's Father.
Was that the reason Griffith was seen flying his way here?

>Go after Benny.
>Look for his father.
>Check back on Farnese and Michelle.
>>
>>5256437
>Go after Benny
Griffith will get Benny to switch sides over to his Falconia, won't he?
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>>5256437
>>Go after Benny.
>>
>>5256437
>Go after Benny.
God, he's definitely is gonna get eaten by like a badger or something if we don't follow him isn't he? poor Benny
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>>5256437
>Go after Benny.
Boy
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>>5256437
>>Go after Benny.
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>>5256442
>>5256443
>>5256447
>>5256461
>>5256530
Benny runs out of the house in a flash, with you bumping into furniture as you grab the halberd on the front door and place it under your back, as much as the weight of your weapon still hurts to carry, you're not sure how far the boy can run.
"Vlad?"
"Where are you going?!" Your mother and Farnese could only watch as the both of you disappeared into the frozen fields.

His weak constitution coming from over a decade of malnutrition makes it easy to pursue him, even if your fractured soul keeps telling you to go easy on yourself, you never lose sight of him as he's always panting a couple meters in front of you.

"Listen to me, Benny! I don't want you to die in my journey! I've already suffered with allies of mine falling before my eyes! You have much to live for in a peaceful world, don't throw it all away before you see it's creation!" Your hand almost reaches him as he runs to the outer ring of Ilos and into the frozen river.
"W-W-w-hat does it matter!? Y-Yo-u, M-M-me, C-Cindy, Dad! E-Everyone's going to die one day! W-W-Why should I care i-if it's t-tomorrow or in 20 y-y-ears?! W-Why am I not allowed to th-put myself into danger like y-you? I-I-I would give anything for Zhafira to be normal again, I would s-sacrifice-" He finally stops as he slips into the gelid layer of ice, panicking as the lack of friction makes him slip further onto the thinner layers.

"Benny! Don't move! I'll get you out of there!" You attempt to get him out of that situation, spreading your feet apart and slowly treading to where he is as he retreats from every step you take, before one wrong foot is accompanied by the sound of a loud crack, causing a rift that would isolate him from all other sides.

As the fog is exhaled from his mouth, you briefly consider jumping over to save him, but that would merely send you both to a frosty demise. Just then, right before your eyes, a jolt of dark energy is felt around you as the unthinkable happens to save the isolated child from his own incompetence.

Out of the sky, the image of Zodd and Griffith are made clearer. The angel of darkness, now sporting an armor not unlike the one he held when fighting at Doldrey's castle, watches over the increasing despair of Benny's predicament before mounting out of Zodd and dropping in the ice to save him.
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>>5256536
Boy don't even fucking think like that, that way leaves monsters.
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>>5256536
"NO!" Jumping at this height would make the ice crack further thanks to the weight of Griffith's jump, but disregarding all known laws of gravity, the layer of ice does not crack or even move as Femto effortlessly lands in an invisible shard of ice who crystallises at his feet, effectively walking on water to save Benny from imminent danger.

"Take my hand, child. To change the world with the sound of your songs is a noble wish, indeed."
As Benny is saved by Griffith and taken into his arms, you point the tip of your weapon to both him and Zodd.
"What the HELL are you doing here?" You nearly bust a vein in your forehead from seeing Grififth here.
"A familiar face lies present with his private army ready for the taking. After being warned of our activities when fighting in the capital, the master gladiator should be arriving at any moment." Zodd responds to you, while Griffith ignores you completely.

Your worst nightmares have been proven correct: They were waiting for Barnham to show up so they would know at which side he would fight for between The Falcon and the Kushan Empire.
"D-Do you mean it, M-Mister? Can someone with no use to an army stay strong to their side." Benny falls further into the swirl of manipulation schemes Griffith has under his tongue.
"Certainly. The best way to enforce that peace stays strong, is that the people stay diligent inside their autocracy. The civilians are the ones who suffer the most falling down the rabbit hole of war, while only a few on top stay happy in their power trip. Feeling validated on their accomplishments is what keeps the populous hopeful and loyal."

"YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO STARTING A WAR YOURSELF, MISERABLE FIEND! WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE SUFFERING OF THE LOWER CLASS?!" Your weapon stays raised against the two towering enemies. With Griffith's alien look into the stars making he remind himself of what happened to a child when he was once a human leader.

"Long ago, I recruited a young child under the falcon's wings, much like you, he had no prior proficiency with the sword, but it did not mean I didn't see value on him. No one remembered his name, he did not stand out from the crowd, but he treated me as some sort of deity when I was around... Seeing as I found his body clutched to a plush toy of a knight, I wondered if he died happy that day, for being part of his own story. Or perhaps, if I was the one who took his life."

"My dream was always to get out of poverty, to ascend into noblehood and have a castle of my own. But ensnaring non-combatants to my throne would be a mistake I would not repeat, after realising that not all are capable of holding their dreams on their own palms. You might not be a fighter, but you still have a place in the society I will aspire to create."
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>>5256557
Greasy lying rat
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>>5256557
"W-Why are you telling me this, mister?" Benny asks as he is cradled by Griffith, being hypnotised by his mere presence.

"Because I was once like you, I only grew because I sold my pride to the long deceased Tudorian Gennon, his sordid tastes in young boys being infamous for child trafficking as sex slaves. It was with that sovereign that I grew my army, and used his power to end his own reign. No child of war will live with fear in their eyes. My kingdom will be an utopia that will mesmerise and change the lives of the worst of pessimists!"

"YOU DON'T BELIEVE ANY OF THIS, LIAR! NOT EVEN YOUR SOUL IS AS EMPTY AS THE LIES YOU TELL TO HIM! YOU'RE NO FALCON, GRIFFITH! YOU'RE A VULTURE OF YOUR OWN MEN!" You nearly jump at him if it wasn't for Nosferatu Zodd still floating above you.

"Do you accuse me of being two faced? Who are you to judge of my intent...?" Griffith finally acknowledges you, the lack of emotion in his voice only makes his rebuttal more eerie.

"From the beginning, I was right in guessing your true origins, weren't I? Yet you still went out of my way to doubt my words. Who is the real liar between the two of us? The one who lies to others, or the one who does it to himself?"
"Spare me of your semantics!" Your anger gets a chuckle out of the white falcon as he continues his drivel.

"Of course, not that it matters now. I realise you were only a pawn in our board, used only to push me further into promotions. A means to proceed the flow of causality in a way that made you think as if you were important." He continues with a chess analogy as he did way back then. "And as the pieces are switched, you have outlived your purpose. Despite being born in a higher position, you have become irrelevant to the point of being unrecognisable as an opponent."

"Being cocky of having to 'work' for your place in the realm of the demons? It's childish to pretend that the way you came back was nothing short of cruel!"

"Perhaps. What with this new form of mine, maybe I have found a deeper appreciation of the innocent cruelty of childhood life."

The ground beneath you shakes as you hear the stomps of something crushing the ground behind you. Barnham is close, along with his army of Gladiators. You are not sure on what he will decide, but your gut instinct tells you that mortal minds are ill-fitted to withstand a clash of strong apostles.

>Get out of the river and wait for Barnham.
>Attack Griffith and tackle him into the ice.
>>
>>5256575
>He will decapitate you bird count on it. And you Benny, you are a coward. Since you are ready drop your sister like a damned ragdoll, if you won't protect zhafira I will
>Get out of the river and wait for Barnham.
>>
>>5256557
Of course Griffith shows up now, we need to telepathically send Benny images of how awful Griffith can be or something. Like that time Griffith confronted Vlad at his house after Guts left, that way we can show Benny that Griffith is a scheming lier.
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>>5256576
>Get out of the river and wait for Barnham
I hate to say it but we need to retreat. Ignoring Femto's space powers, if Vlad touches Griffith, Zodd will rip him apart.
>>
>>5256576
>>Attack Griffith and tackle him into the ice.
>Benny if you trust this man over me than I have nothing to say to you, just know that when I say that he is the most evil man I know, I mean it!
>>
>>5256586
oops, I meant
>Get out of the river and wait for Barnham
>>
>>5256575
>Get out of the river and wait for Barnham.

"Unlikely, i would not expect that even at the end of the world Griffith and i have not another word to say to you."

"Benny return here. If you truly wish i will take you under me. If you where ready to throw yourself in a river, then you will be ready for a life of struggle side by side with me. You have seen me fought before for Ilos, for your family, even for you in the Arena. Do you remember that ? I have already explain you before what my life is, and what it will be. You have asked me twice, now i will give you one offer to join me or to simply return to your family."
>>
>>5256576
>Get out of the river and wait for Barnham.
>Say one thing to Griffith, beforehand. "When are you going to realize you're still nothing more than a pawn? The rest of the god hand sought your birth so they could use you. The currents of causality are nothing more than the chains that bind you, no matter how much you think they work for you instead. They were the ones who made your life as miserable as it was, and yet you still want to work with them? Why? All for your silly little dream, no matter how much you have to sacrifice to accomplish it? The sacrifices won't ever end, once they start. You of all people should know this!"
>>
>>5256576
I'll back this>>5256598
>>
>>5256598
+1
>>
>>5256437
>>5256536
Benny will probably neck himself or get turned into a rampaging apostle later. Such is causality.
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>>5256598
It's pointless to try and reason with Griffith because he literally isn't human or thinking in the same manner a person thinks. He's literally jsut a vessel for the evil of Causality like all the other demon kings.

I'll give this a +1 (since any other action will get us killed), but I'm not hopeful of getting through to him.
>>
>>5256741
I don't think it'll get through to him either. But I think, later down the line, this conversation might serve to give him pause for the briefest of moments, at a critical juncture in causality.
A seed of doubt, being planted and nurtured within his mind.
Fitting, is it not?
>>
>>5256748
We arguably mean less to him than even Guts or Rickert, who are the only people we've seen who managed to get Griffith to ever react in a way that wasn't "emotionless shell for an eldritch demonic intelligence". I don't think he's ever going to think back on Vlad after this beyond us being the guy who was stupid enough to lead a desperate kid with developing traits of nihilism straight into his arms.
>>
>>5256546
Too late!
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>>5256598
Going with this then, writing soon.
Just finished Sword Of The Berserk while I was on break, I'm going to love to adapt this part if it happens here. Gameplay was kinda wonky but it being cutscene heavy softened the blow. Still better than the musou game/10
>>
>>5256760
I wouldn't be so certain about that. Already, things have changed, beings have come into existence that did not exist originally. We only know a fraction of what happened in the incarnation ceremony, so any number of unknown factors could be at play within Griffith's new body that we, as players, may not know about.
It's important to remember that Femto even tries to lie to himself. He tells himself that Guts means nothing to him anymore, but it's a shallow lie.
Besides that, Griffith was always a paranoid sort, dealing with the fact that he was trying to backstab people before they backstab him. The paranoia of his former self cannot be so easily forgotten, surely?
>>
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>>5256598
Your first instinct is to attempt a squeamish decapitation of Griffith, but seeing how he has a boy under his arms and one of the strongest apostles that ever lived above the two of you, you step back and attempt to reason with Benny instead of resorting to violence.

"Benny, please don't listen to what Griffith has to say. if that's what you truly wish, I will take you with me. You have asked me twice, now i will give you one offer to join me or to simply return to your family."

"Y-Y-Y-You only say that now because s-s-someone gave me a better offer! You n-n-never wanted me here! You never gave me a ch-chance!"

"Your sister and your father still love you, regardless of what you think of me! Think of what they would say!"

"Th-Th-They wanted me to be free t-too! If I wasn't such a weakling, I would have left to look for a cure for my sister years ag-go!"
"Cure? Is your sister sick?" Griffith pretends not to be all-knowing for the sake of better manipulating the child in his arms. "Why, yes. Perhaps we could find a solution to that conundrum in given time."

Whatever words you can throw to place Benny at your side are deflected by Griffith and then used against you to be twice as effective in making him join the dark side. Maybe it's time to give up on that front and instead inquire the enemy on his internal logic.

"Griffith." You soften your voice when calling to him. "When are you going to realize you're still nothing more than a pawn? The rest of the God Hand sought your birth, just so they could use you. The currents of causality are nothing more than the chains that bind you, no matter how much you think they work for you instead. They were the ones who made your life as miserable as it was, and yet you still want to work with them? Why? All for your silly little dream, no matter how much you have to sacrifice to accomplish it? The sacrifices won't ever end, once they start. You of all people should know this!"

"You are sorely mistaken if that is the extent of your knowledge in the ways of causality." He surprisingly starts explaining his motivations. "By nature, The God Hand is cyclical. There were other fingers before me, and more members could certainly come to be, should the creator manifest it's desires onto our realm. The reason for that is due to human desires growing stronger with each passing century, increasing proportionately with our knowledge of what we cannot control. The greater the ambition, the greater the sacrifices. It is why all the fingers were once human, and are bound to be replaced eventually. But it was not them who altered history. For there to be a God Hand, A God needs to exist."

"A God?"
"Our motives are far too grand for you to understand, but know this: His desires are the same as yours and mine. And if he chose to give me wings, I shall take to the sky and forge my kingdom. Afterall, how many people do you know who have been brought back from the dead?"
>>
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>>5256894
His last remark seems to make fun of how you had to fake your death for two years and over half of Midland still believes you to be an impostor of Griffith, but your head is running circles around itself as to why Griffith would reveal all that to you. Was it to mock you? He doesn't seem to hold any grudges against you despite your history. So shoving his triumph in your face sounds inconceivable for someone who hasn't shown a shred of human emotion so far.

Is he challenging you and giving you hints as to how best scramble a way to defeat him? Is he even being truthful, or has he been lying this entire time in an attempt to confuse you? Your ability to read intent would come in great right now, but if using them before when he was carrying the God Hand Behelit was enough for you to pass out, you can only imagine how that would be like opening the door to your soul for Femto to come inside.

This revelation alone was enough to give you a headache, one that makes you pull away from his presence as the intended effect takes place on you.

"All will submit to fate in due time. Resisting is not only futile, but a counter-measure to humanity's true nature."

"It is good to know that I rejected my humanity a long time ago." Barnham's apostle form retreats into his humanoid, mutant state as he finally appears with his brigade, along with your curious allies.

"So that's the falcon of darkness fella you told me about, partner? Seems a lot like that old mercenary leader I heard a few years back." Hyde whistles with his flock of harpies.

"Benny! Get away from that man, right now!" Bernard shows up to scold his son.
"Lady Farnese, get behind me!" Serpico can only hope to shield his mistress in case anything happens to her.

Zodd stares into the fiery eyes of Barnham, who eagerly awaited a rematch against his mentor for what seemed to be an eternity in his eyes.
"I am disappointed in you, Zodd The Immortal! All these years, searching for the strongest, only to submit to him instead of fighting on a real duel!"
"You seem to have grown a bit, bearly nemesis. I hope your display will not be as pathetic as last time, because a third encounter will only be initiated if you're able to battle beyond the grave!" Zodd starts to chastise Barnham, but Griffith raises his hand to shut him up.

"Barnham. As is with all apostles, you have ascended in order to be free and do as you wish. but there comes a time when power is too great to go unnoticed. Your strength and assets would serve well in jump starting our militia, and I believe the message we sent when you were about to kill Princess Charlotte was made clear."

"It was either to come here or to lose all that's mine. Your ultimatum was very effective. I'm glad to know you have lived through the ordeal in Albion, Vlad. When this is all over, I would like to order your house to be ready for settlement."

"What was the message they sent to you, Barnham?" You skip the pleasantries despite appreciating them.
>>
>>5256910
"They made me go through the worst pain imaginable... All those years, fighting without the ability to feel pain, it all came back to me, reliving all of the gruesome wounds all have given me throughout the years as I destroyed and reconstructed my body, I had to feel all of those times to the point where I was barely able to stand straight in my apostle form, right as I forgot what the feeling of pain was like... And it all happened right in front of that little pest I loathe so much." Barnham explains how The God Hand apparently could disable his trademark ability at will.

"Do not badmouth our future Queen. She will soon to be your leader, as well." Griffith responds, already implying that Barnham would join anyway.

"You either side with the Kushan Empire, or with us. The choice is yours." Zodd finishes the sentence of the demon lord.

"Grrr.... GRRRRR!" A gust of wind pushes forward as Barnham considers transforming, but ceases mid transformation to land a punch into a nearby boulder, spreading it's force apart as it smashes itself into pebbles and forces Zodd to land in order to dodge them, making the both finally stare face-to-face, no difference in altitude aside from their height and difference in forms.

"I SIDE WITH NEITHER! POWER IS ABSOLUTE, AND MY CENTER OF GRAVITY IS BIG ENOUGH TO BE RECOGNISED AS A MENACE INDEPENDENT OF BOTH PARTIES!" Barnham growls at Zodd, even if his words are meant for Griffith.

They appear to be about to fight, but provided either of them wins or loses, the fact that Barnham needs flesh to regenerate, and that he's fighting the bodyguard of the man incapable of losing by god himself can only end in misery for any near bystanders of this legendary clash.

>Words won't reach Barnham. Settle this in the ring, just like I did.
>Are you sure you can defeat Zodd now, Barnham?
>We are not afraid of you. Consider your intrusion a declaration of war against our union.
>I would sooner unite with Ganishka than with you, Falcon.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5256920
>>We are not afraid of you. Consider your intrusion a declaration of war against our union.
Barnham is our BRO
>>
>>5256920
>Your weakness surprises me. You believe you need, unearned, our army? When you have so many willing to grovel at your feet, you would come here and demand Barnham’s hard-won spoils? You don’t have any need of it, not with what I know you have at your disposal. We would gladly wage war against the Kushans, but not for you, and not under your banner. And if you aim to force the matter, we would gladly declare war against you as well. This is the fate that we desire. We fight for our own purpose.
>>
>>5256894
>Griffith knows and fully embraces his role as a tool to be used and discarded by the IoE
I knew it wouldn't work but I didn't think he'd rebuff us quite so hard.

>>5256920
Barnham remains the Best.

>We are not afraid of you. Consider your intrusion a declaration of war against our union.
Also a +1 to this >>5256938
>>
>>5256920
>>We are not afraid of you. Consider your intrusion a declaration of war against our union.
"Ah but there is far more options than that, the Kushan aren't the only ones. Perhaps there will be even more now. Midland has more alternatives today, and the people will notice them Griffith. Even the ones that serve you will, inevitably look at them and perhaps even join them."
>>
>>5256920
>We are not afraid of you. Consider your intrusion a declaration of war against our union.
>>
>>5256920
FUCK EM UP BRONHAM

>We are not afraid of you. Consider your intrusion a declaration of war against our union.
>I would sooner unite with Ganishka than with you, Falcon.
>Write-in.
>>5256938
SECONDING THIS
>>
>>5256920
>We are not afraid of you. Consider your intrusion a declaration of war against our union.
And backing >>5256938
Plus >>5256994
>>
>>5257034
I ain't uniting with the Kushans, but that one guy with the muscle bodyguards seems reasonable
>>
>>5256920
Backing these>>5256938
>>5256994
>>
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>>5256938
"Your weakness surprises me, Griffith. You believe you need, unearned, our army? When you have so many willing to grovel at your feet, you would come here and demand Barnham’s hard-won spoils?"

"And how do you think he was able to achieve those spoils? It was not unbeknownst to the eyes of our leaders." Zodd speaks up.

"Consider this not a forceful apprehension, but an open invitation. All are welcomed in this new world of mine, even the ones who had a past riddled with blood smears and wrongful actions. Given how we have a common enemy invading Midland once more, one would not expect to be so close-minded as to refuse uniting forces in such dire periods." Griffith explains the politics of his utopia, but you are not impressed with any of it.

"So you admit you don’t have any need of Barnham's army, not with what I know you have at your disposal. We would gladly wage war against the Kushans, but not for you, and not under your banner. And if you aim to force the matter, we would gladly declare war against you as well. This is the fate that we desire. We fight for our own purpose."

"A brave mindset indeed, but do not forget of the wishes of the collective. By being an apostle, he has made a contract to obey causality before all else."

"I would rather be exhausted beyond despair as my body is undone by your worst soldiers, than to halt my journey of becoming the strongest! The only reason you are so afraid of my growth, is because you know I will eventually pose a threat to your reign!"

"As someone who has been searching for the strongest for long before you made your pact, know that you are not even close to the higher rankings, and even if you quenched your hunger for a hundred years, you would still be unable to take me down." Zodd lays the truth onto Barnham, but he decides to punch the empty socket on his head that once showed his prideful, horn, spreading the damage to make him drop his head on the floor.

"You say this now, but here I am, punching you in the face before even needing to transform!" Barnham mocks Zodd's cowardly submission as the monster gets up to start a fight.
The crunch in Zodd's jaw was heard by all the soldiers, as he finally loses his patience and jumps on top of Barnham sending him flying up into the sky before ground pounding him on top of his soldiers, crushing the ones who couldn't escape.

Barnham finally transforms into his own form, fighting the goat demon with his own damage resisting strategy. While he ignores the initial blows, a precise scratch in his arm is enough to tear up to the bone, making Barnham quickly bite onto Zodd's shoulder as he attempts to regenerate.
>>
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>>5257229
As they wrestle each other to the ground, rolling and crushing whoever came to pass, it appears that Barnham has the upper hand initially, but after some time Zodd appears to readjust his level of strength from the last time they fought, with the bear getting more and more blows and reacting with increasingly sluggish movements. He screams as if he were in horrible pain, and while he did claw a few holes in Zodd's limbs, he manages to regenerate faster without so much as placing a single drop of blood on his tongue.

"We are not afraid of you, Griffith! Consider this a declaration of war against our union!" You stop spectating the fight to turn your head back to Griffith. "The people will know of further options than you, the Kushan or us, your servants will only be temporary once they realise you're just as much a war criminal as the ones you're fighting against."

Griffith does not respond, remaining focused on hearing Barnham's screams as his attempts to get up are impeded by a horn being impaled on his side.
Usually, Barnham would simply ignore the pain and punch Zodd square in his snout, the agony in his voice makes it clear that his trademark ability has been toggled off, with Griffith's silent lip-flapping indicating him to be the culprit.

Zodd attempts to throw Barnham off his horn, but even as he is impaled, he lets the horn go further inside him so he can lock his legs onto Zodd's neck, crushing his windpipe and making him unable to breathe as his head desperately twists in all directions.

As the two beasts fight to the death, the people's eyes of terror do not escape your gaze, and neither does the sound of Barnham's left arm twisting further into the opposite direction of his ligaments, at this rate, if he doesn't apply more strength into suffocating Zodd, his body will limply fall right onto...

The direction where he would likely fly off would be right onto Bernard and Michelle's settlement, where Zhafira was lodged inside.

>Tell Barnham to back off.
>Tell Griffith to stop the fight.
>Distract Griffith with your halberd so his spell is temporarly worn off.
>Tell the Ilos gladiators to back him up.
>>
>>5257253
>Tell the Ilos gladiators to back him up.
Then we should do
>Distract Griffith with your halberd so his spell is temporarly worn off.
For maximum effectiveness.
>>
>>5257253
>>5257256
seconding
>>
>>5257253
I'll back this>>5257256
Considering our current condition we can't do much else.
>>
>>5257253
>Tell the Ilos gladiators to back him up.
>Distract Griffith with your halberd so his spell is temporarly worn off.
>ask Griffith if he actually thought you betrayed him in the chapel.
>>
>>5257256
>>5257263
>>5257272
>>5257308
Bold of you to point a weapon at the final boss before the story even reaches the halfway point.
A 2d100. Don't expect low checks.
>>
Rolled 9 (1d100)

>>5257319
>>
Rolled 44, 29 = 73 (2d100)

>>5257319
NO REGRETS
>>
Rolled 27 (1d100)

>>5257321
Oh I forgot
>>
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Rolled 23, 70 = 93 (2d100)

>>5257319
Barnham may be an apostle, but his heart remains his own.
>>
Rolled 13, 73 = 86 (2d100)

>>5257319
when do we roll to berserk?
>>
Rolled 15, 24 = 39 (2d100)

>>5257319
>>
>>5257322
>>5257328
>>5257332
>>5257332
>>5257369
Well, at least the second roll is above the bare minimum.
>>
Guys, another thing we could do is assist Barnham by using our plant powers to help choke out Zodd. Use our powers to assist Barnham while Griffith uses his to assist Zodd!
>>
>>5257472
Using the plants for immobilize Zodd or tear his limbs could be an idea
>>
Or for impale him. We have some creative options for the attacks if we want honestly.
>>
>>5257369
>>5257332
>>5257328
>>5257323
>>5257322
>>5257321
Oh boy, someone's about to get trashed...
Writing.
>>
You know whats scarier than dying?

Living to see the consequences.
>>
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>>5257321
>>5257322
>>5257323
"GLADIATORS, ATTACK!" You order for around 500 gladiators to attack Zodd at the same time in an attempt to save Barnham's life. The crowd accordingly waits for an opportunity to jump in, until one throws a javelin onto Zodd's back, followed by the strike of an arrow, and then a bolt, and then a ball of iron.

Throwing Barnham on the floor and letting him gurgle on his own blood, Zodd gets angry at the sight of people interrupting his one-on-one fight, not knowing there was already outside interference long before. The Bear apostle can barely stand up from the pain.

"Miserable insects!" Zodd starts crushing the smaller foes crawling on his back, jumping and falling onto them to squash them completely, while Barnham slurps the small amounts of blood splattering in his direction.

Still feeling the pain thanks to Griffith's intervention, you raise your halberd against Griffith and attempt to land a few hits on Griffith. With him having a child in his arm, even if he can defy gravity, he still is limited on what he can do, and you don't plan on accidentally hitting Benny either, so you mostly strike in his general direction in hopes that he will fall for the bait and dodge anyway.

Griffith does not move, but keeps staring at Zodd's fight with the gladiators. While they are strong and are able to put up a decent fight against each other, most of them are getting absolutely trashed by only one apostle in Griffith's duo, too small to even call an army, yet powerful enough to highhandedly defeat one.

"It seems history is bound to repeat itself, much like when I fought Zodd along with him..."
"Why are you ignoring me? Dodge!" You finally lunge your lance at his forehead, finally getting a reaction out of him as his pupils dilate, making your weapon around 10 times heavier than before as an opposing force stops your hands from hitting him. It was as if he was able to telekinetically hold you in place, making even the air around himself crush you instead of even lifting a finger.

"I only take offence to ones who pose imminent danger to myself, or to my plans. Guts was too insignificant to even waver my heart after our meeting in the hill of swords. He was the one I was the most curious in seeing how my new body of flesh would react, and yet, I felt nothing at all."
>>
>>5257616
I think we should focus on helping out Barnham and taking try taking down Zodd along with him
>>
>>5257661
Alongside him*
>>
>>5257663
I'm all for blasting the SOB with our od but in close combat we would be turned into swiss cheese.
>>
Man becchi, I would absolutely love to draw this story and turn it into a comic.
>>
>>5257616
>"I only take offence to ones who pose imminent danger to myself, or to my plans. Guts was too insignificant to even waver my heart after our meeting in the hill of swords. He was the one I was the most curious in seeing how my new body of flesh would react, and yet, I felt nothing at all."
Griffith lies as easily as he pretends to breathe.
>>
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>>5257671
Me too anon, me too. I forgot how much effort it took to illustrate with my mediocre art skills so I gave up on doing art of my favorite scenes.

Especially since the art in Berserk is so detailed, most I can do is chibi moeblobs.

The novel format I can still do since it's just reformatting and I'm already compiling it and editing the typos but I forgot how time consuming drawing is. Already got a job and a gym to go every other day so I might as well focus on the writing since that's what I do best.

>Mfw today marks a year already since Miura died
Man, I hope I can do an ending that does it justice if we get there.
>>
>>5257680
>Especially since the art in Berserk is so detailed, most I can do is chibi moeblobs.
They're adorable and make nice contrast with the unholy cosmic terror.
>>
>>5257680
Cute drawing Beechi :)
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>>5257616
Did I read the scene wrong? Barnham had his legs locked around Zodd's neck, impaling himself deep onto the horn to do so, and Zodd was making Banrham's arms into a pretzel or something like that. Then it immediately switches into Zodd throwing barnham on the floor. Not sure if a post was eaten or if editing consumed a sentence or two that was supposed to be there (happens to me all the time when I write), but it feels like there's something missing between the grapple-off and the toss-down to actually break that grapple.
>>
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>>5257616
"Guts has met you already?"
"Indeed. And even if the one that made me once forget my dream did nothing to stop me, it was a sign that I am truly free. Free of emotions, of guilt, of expressions, of causality itself. No slave of fate can be truly aware of how little they can control their urges."

"Likewise, even if my past self once saw you as an enemy, being free of my programming only made me realise you did not do more than play your role. Killing you over a grudge my past incarnation previously had would be the equivalent of squashing all the ants on their hills because one of them happened to bite your finger. The effort to accomplish that would dissuade me from my primary goals, unnecessary strength that would ultimately change very little in my life."

"Seen me as an enemy...? So after what happened in the chapel- Ghg! Were you holding a grudge? Did you really think I betrayed you?" You speak inbetween grunts and painful movements.

"You were only a tertiary character in the Idea Of Evil's story, someone who's life is not important, but one that deserved to live fully so it would complete it's purpose. Provided I did have any hard feelings for you, I could not explain what they were now that it's all been buried in the past. Whatever you may think of me in the present, rest assured that visiting you personally, solely to humiliate you is beneath me. I came here to listen to Barnham's response as a gladiator, and now that he has answered me, I can take my leave... Though that Arena has given me an idea..." As much as Griffith tries to answer as a human being, he really comes off as something else, an empty vessel with his voice that only speaks as an emissary for an emotionless astral leader.

"If you only wanted my answer, you could have just telepathically listened to me! In fact, You knew of my answer ever since I invaded the castle, Falcon!" Barnham points the stubble of his shoulder to Griffith, having fallen to the ground after being forced to let go of Zodd thanks to the horrendous pain he was previously feeling. But the fact that he's able to talk means that Griffith stopped focusing on him, ready to take his leave.

"Focus on the present, Vlad Santana. What you can do for the ones you see today. Continuing this fight would be pointless. The outcome is clear for all to see." The unseen force pushes your neck to see all the horrified gladiators, dying before even landing a blow on Zodd. The Kushan sorcerer Kalki trembling as he considers the effectiveness of casting Pishacha a spell onto the field. Serpico pushes Farnese away as she reaches an arm out to you, wanting to watch and discover if you were going to live the encounter.

"Call out your troops, Vlad. Halt this fight from your side, and I will halt from mine. There is no need for further desolation." The gravitational pull now bends your knees, making you bow in front of the Falcon.
>>
>>5257771
Yeah I deleted a key sentence when editing, at least I could fix it in the following update before it was too late. Failing to proofread when autistically taking a while to proofread is always fun.
>>
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>>5257810
For added effect, your head is slouched downwards so you can see your own reflection in the water, while Griffith's is out of the corner of your eye. Given how he is easily taking control of the situation, his choice seems too forceful for you to see it as anything other than total and complete submission.

You attempt to stand up and resist the urge to surrender with all of your might, but you end up falling onto the surface of the thin layer of ice. But just like Benny, instead of breaking and freezing inside the river's water, your body lies on top of the water, as if Griffith lent you his power to miraculously defy gravity itself.

"Stay in this position, and you will stay afloat. Try to stand on your own, and you will sink into an icy baptism." While Femto says that he holds no grudge, he sure wants to make it clear to humiliate you before leaving.

He walks over to your side, and while your spear is still in hand with the weight of a hundred kilos, you still have enough stamina in you to attempt a swing at his-

"Your intent is made clear but do not follow through on it. Prove me wrong that humans have more than a one track mind, if you are willing to risk not only your life, but the ones of innocent people in your journey, you should know that letting your emotions control you in this moment will only lead you into expiry.

With your trump card losing two limbs, your body fighting against itself, Zodd effortlessly destroying your soldiers, and the powerful allies you recognise either staying still or retreating, it is with great honesty that you admit that Griffith has had the upper hand throughout this encounter.

Femto can read your intent, but you cant read his: Will he really oblige and cease fire if you play your part? The way he is going about this certainly doesn't seem like a peace treaty to you.

>Lower your head, halt the attack.
>Attempt to stand on the water's surface.
>Spit a magical seed onto the riverbed.
>Slash Griffith with your halberd.
>Something else.
>>
>>5257843
>>Spit a magical seed onto the riverbed.
We will call off the fight, but we will not submit to him
>>
>>5257843
>Spit a magical seed onto the riverbed.
>Halt the attack without submitting to Griffith.
A little flex with our tree trick is the best we can get away with at the moment. Hopefully Vlad doesn't once again roll god awful at a critical moment.
Guessing Barnham will hold out as long as we do, any act that even implies surrender could make him turn coat on us since he will lose all respect for us.
Guessing that is Griffith's plan, he can still get man bear as long as Vlad bends the knee in front of him.
>>
>>5257843
>Spit a magical seed onto the riverbed.
>>
dice+5d100+10
>>
>>5258030
/dice+1d100+10
>>
Rolled 19, 38, 26, 2, 65 = 150 (5d100)

>>5258030
cleansing the dice of shit rolls
>>
Rolled 88, 84, 70, 7, 46 = 295 (5d100)

>>5258040
lets see... are there any more?
>>
Rolled 71, 5, 21, 86, 9 = 192 (5d100)

>>5258030
>>
>>5257843
>Spit a magical seed onto the riverbed.
>>
>>5257843
>>Something else.
Spit magical seeds directly under us and have them grow in to a tree, so we can stand and not submit. Correct our posture as well with said tree.
Then use our pure Od and send the branches of this tree to stop Zood.
At that moment we halt the attack, no submission.
>>
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>>5257857
>>5257959
>>5258060
>>5258100
Alright then, a 1d100! Let's see how well that goes for our boy
>>
Rolled 51 (1d100)

>>5258205
These dice shall not submit today
>captcha yngp2
Young Gunpowder?
>>
Rolled 43 (1d100)

>>5258205
>>
Rolled 82 (1d100)

>>5258205
DICE DONT FAIL ME NOW
>>
Rolled 54 (1d100)

>>5258205
>>
>>5258210
>>5258215
>>5258234
Nice, seems like it's going to work afterall.
>>
>>5258234
You Glorious Bastard!
You saved us!
>>
>>5258274
The dice gods have gifted us a blessing this day.
>>
>>5258299
the dubs say return to tree
>>
>>5258248
say what you want about vlad he will die on his feet.
>>
>>5258361
"I would rather die on my feet than to live on my knees." - Vlad Santana, prior to losing all of his bones in a tragic fight (he gets better)
>>
>>5258366
Vlad "I can make my own splints" Santana
>>
>>5258366
lmao we where just starting to heal
fucking GRIIIIIIFTHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
>>
>>5258210
>>5258215
>>5258234
Fighting the urge to stay on your elbows, you ponder on how to oppose the falcon without freezing to death, because staying on this pathetic pose is not an option!

Realising your pouch of seeds is still with you, you try attempt to produce on in your mouth and spit it into the riverbed, hoping the water isn't too cold to overpower your commands.

"My growth isn't over yet, Griffith. I might have been forced to postpone our fight, but submitting to your throne inside my lair is something I will not give you the pleasure of seeing." With the key word being activated, the sapling grows into a large, black walnut. The branches lift you up and place you into a standing position, with your seat turning into an ornate chair fitting for a lord, with it's trunk blocking the water flow as it grows and grows, you stare at Griffith as his neck rises, being much smaller and under you after your display of magical prowess.

"No matter how many times causality might bring me down, my throne is well established in Ilos, and here is where I will remain sitting down. why don't you go sit down on your throne?" You rest your back on your newly crafted seed as the branches of the three expand, which reach outwards until it reaches Zodd, with him swiftly turning around before seeing that the twigs were about to puncture his eyes out if he were to make any sudden movements.

"Delightful. It seems that you are indeed capable of holding back your urges. Very well then, it is time to take my leave. In our next meeting, time will decide which of our seats will be at the highest position."

"Zodd!" Griffith raises an arm to call the Minotaur's attention, making him stop his rampage and return to Griffith's side, breaking the branches along the way.

"When Emperor Ganishka is defeated, we will see if we are in equal terms for your union to wage war, instead of engaging in massacres."

And with that, Griffith departs to the sky, carrying Benny in his arms as Bernard shouts for his son to come back!
"Benny! Where do you think you're going, sonny? BENNY!" The devastated father watches his son grab onto Zodd's back as Griffith glides into the unknown.

With the army being in shambles, you wonder of what the future will bring when Griffith's army is complete.
"Meet me in my room tomorrow for an emergency meeting. An exchange of information is essential so we can better plan for our next actions."

Feeling like you've done enough for the day, you drop down from your trees (With the help of Hyde's harpy) and recede into Bernard's home.

>Talk to Bernard.
>Check if Serpico and Farnese are ok.
>Help Barnham reach his room.
>Sleep in the outer ring houses.
>Sleep at Barnham's chambers.
>>
>>5258372
>Help Barnham reach his room.
>>
>>5258372
That s a based move

>>5258372
>Help Barnham reach his room.
We are a two equals ruling, helping each other is what we need to do now. This said tell Hyde and Serpico to go and check on Bernard, we are going to talk to him but its better if he doesnt go crazy meanwhile. Like beating himself with a hammer or running in the middle of winter.


>Talk to Bernard.
When we are done talking with Barnham we go to Bernard. Is better if we avoid that he does something dumb. Not sure what we can do. A promise ? Of vengeance ? Of getting back Benny ? Reassure him ? eh, idk.
What i do know is that we better start making runic armors and weapons for our army. Alongside new equipment for us.
>>
>>5258372
>Help Barnham reach his room.
>"That ability of his to cause you to feel pain again...we'll need to train you to overcome even that, in time, old friend. We won't let them win in the end. Pain is merely weakness leaving the body."
>>
>>5258372
>Talk to Bernard.
Comfort the man before he goes insane.
Then
>Help Barnham reach his room.
>>
>>5258393
Support
>>
"That ability of his to cause you to feel pain again... Griffith impeded you in having a fair fight against Zodd. We won't let them win, though. Let's get you fixed up, friend."

"Surviving two encounters with Zodd is nothing to scoff at, but it is hard to gauge if I could have defeated him while being numb... I refused to eat the flesh of my soldiers, so the fight had to end prematurely. Maybe I am not as strong as I thought." Barnham growls as you stand him up and take him to his chambers with the help of several of his soldiers.

"Don't give me that load, Barnham! Eat a few more apostles and you'll be strong enough to consume the world."
"You sure act confident for someone who was barely able to stand yourself. What did you learn in your trip to Albion to make you so brave?"

"I will tell you in a minute, I just need to do something beforehand..." You move over to speak to Bernard, but Farnese stands in front of you.

"Let me take care of them." Farnese offers to provide emotional support to the father who just lost his own son to Griffith, with Michelle and Serpico visibly holding him back as he furiously attempted to run off.

"LET ME GO! LET ME GO! I NEED TO GO AFTER THAT PIECE OF SHIT THAT TOOK BENNY FROM ME- UGH!" He attempts to grasp the crescent moon above, but the calluses on his palms remind him that he's in no condition to go in a journey either.

"...I'll talk to you later." You limp over back to Barnham, hoping that things quiet down once Farnese attempts to level the situation down, wanting to do more fore you.

Placing your hand over your nose, you sit next to Barnham and tell him of your journey into the border, your encounter with Mozgus and your power up that lets you grow trees with magical seeds.

"I see. So it was impossible to secure our flag onto the tower?"
"There was no tower when the reincarnation ceremony ended, or a flag, given my items all flew into a vortex of the abyss. The most I could do was to invite the refugees here and propose a teaching of magic with the book of spells I found there."

"Most of them don't look particularly healthy to join my army, Kalki knows Kushan magic, but it's specialised in making Pishachas and possessing animals. Are you sure you could teach them any of those tricks?"

"Even if I might not be able to do all the magic in the book, I have studied the ways of nature for years. At least one of them should be able to turn into a master. In fact, I have high expectations of one of the girls I brought."

"Interesting, but what about the ones who don't want to fight? This is what my culture is all about. If you brought them in to occupy space in the poor area's housings, they should at least contribute in the economy." Barnham proposes, eating the head of a Pishacha to regenerate his arms as you ponder on the answer.
>>
>>5258539
>They could start betting in the ring.
>Leave them to their own devices.
>They could help in forging weapons.
>How were things on your end? Is the old Santana estate secured?
>There is something wrong with my Od, would Kalki be able to figure out what the problem is?
>What are your plans for the future and for the Kushan invasion?
>When is the next fight starting? I am interested in betting to increase my earnings.
>Write-in.
>>
Since Benny plays music we should call him “Ben Jammin’”
>>
>>5258543
>They could help in forging weapons.
>How were things on your end? Is the old Santana estate secured?
>What are your plans for the future and for the Kushan invasion?
>>
>>5258543
>They could help in forging weapons.
Bernard can get a break for once.
>How were things on your end? Is the old Santana estate secured?
Let's see what really went down on Barnhams end.
>There is something wrong with my Od, would Kalki be able to figure out what the problem is?
Better asking someone who knows magic what's going on.
>What are your plans for the future and for the Kushan invasion?
Lets start brainstorming our next move, Griffith is likely doing the same.
>>
>>5258543
>They could help in forging weapons.
"But it would be good to see what skills they have first. Some could be used even for foraging, in the fields, as artisans and so on."
>How were things on your end? Is the old Santana estate secured?
>There is something wrong with my Od, would Kalki be able to figure out what the problem is?
Mention that new monster.
>What are your plans for the future and for the Kushan invasion?
Put a few ideas of our own first, like using runes on weapons, equipment and defenses. Using our seeds for create new fortifications and training magicians. Mention Guts and Skull Knight has possible allies.
And well Barnham isn't dumb, he will notice those are knights of the church (they arrived with the refugees) and Farnese is a Vandimion.
>>
>>5258372
Benny is fucked. Either literally or metaphorically, he's fucked.
>>
>>5258543
>They could help in forging weapons or farming the land, if they're willing to - if not, then I'm sure they have their own professional skills to make money in other ways. No society can subsist on warriors alone, after all.
To answer him. Then,
>How were things on your end? Is the old Santana estate secured?
and lastly, to get direction on our very next move:
>There is something wrong with my Od, would Kalki be able to figure out what the problem is?
>>
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>>5258550
>>5258561
>>5258585
"They could help in forging weapons and armor, for instance, But it would be good to see what skills they have first. Some could be used even for foraging, in the fields, as artisans and so on." You comment on how Bernard might not be inclined to work for you after what happened, but not all of the immigrants will have the talent or the patience to master a new skill like weapon smithing. And given how the reason Benny left was due to him putting his eggs in the wrong basked, having some sort of survey amongst the people who came here is the least you could do.

"Understandable. Kalki told me about the woman who came flying into our domain. He almost turned the creatures into Pishachas, but after hearing she came thanks to you, he made a pact to leave her alone if she used her children in delivery. You sure find the weirdest ways to contribute in our evolution, comrade." Barnham briefly mentions how Jodi, Hyde's wife, came to live here in peace.

"Unconventional is my way of staying conventional. I'm glad you're giving them a chance."
"Not all of them, Vlad. Last time we talked about fighting against the church, you were vehemently against the Holy Iron Knight Chains, and here you are, bringing their leader to live with the poor." Barnham recognised Farnese when fighting Zodd, despite the large amount of things going on during that encounter.

"I know you were against putting power in establishments, but she's not with the church anymore, I was even thinking of making her learn magic with us so-"

"A change of heart is not the problem at stake, Vlad. She is from one of the richest and most renown families on the planet. Someone is bound to search for her, and given how some others that came with her had the engravings of the Holy See, the bourgeoisie are bound to interfere with their puny arms and their ridiculous amount of gold, and the last thing I need ingrained into my culture is bureaucracy. I need to stay here to defend our land against the Kushan or if any of Griffith's men come to prematurely put an end to our reforming. With at least 50 of my gladiators being killed by Zodd, babysitting is not exactly my top priority."

"That blonde girl in particular appeared to be quite attached to you and your cause. Perhaps you grew enamoured by her looks and thought she would be valuable before proper evaluation?"

>Why stay in Ilos? I was hoping you could join me on my journey.
>Farnese will not be here for long, don't you worry.
>Why could hide her by altering her appearance.
>My feelings are irrelevant to the conversation, she has development potential, so she is staying.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5258637
>Why could hide her by altering her appearance.
>My feelings are irrelevant to the conversation, she has development potential, so she is staying.
>>
>>5258637
>My feelings are irrelevant to the conversation, she has development potential. I've felt the depths of her Od, she has a true talent for Magic - and Magic is one of the few methods for Man to match Apostle in this war.
>Why stay in Ilos? I was hoping you could join me on my journey. Besides, you won't find many opportunities to grow stronger here. I think it would be wiser to actively seek out hostile, powerful Apostles to consume. That way we can at least have less enemies at our doorstep when Femto makes his move.
>>
>>5258637
>>Why could hide her by altering her appearance.
>>My feelings are irrelevant to the conversation, she has development potential, so she is staying.
"And i hardly want to see you babysitting someone, no we need a strong force. Farnese has the potential, alongside a few others that joined me. I will forge their wills and their bodies, so they can aid our efforts."

one of us should always remain in Ilos, i don't think both of us can leave.
>>
>>5258684
Bro we just got back from doing exactly that, both Barnham and us were away.
Went just fine with the sorcerer keeping things going.
>>
>>5258688
We don t know how much we will be away this time (we don't know the exact position of our mother, so not even how long we will travel. Then we also need to get back to Ilos), and with the Kushan closing in and Griffth men possibly arriving before him Ilos is at risk, more than before.
Barnham said it himself here in this update
"I need to stay here to defend our land against the Kushan or if any of Griffith's men come to prematurely put an end to our reforming"

And he didn't even mention possible third parties coming in for try and conquer Ilos. So i am going to vote for this.
>>
>>5258665
Voting for this.
>>
>>5258642
>>5258665
>>5258684
"Why, we could always hide her by altering her appearance. My feelings are irrelevant to the conversation anyhow, she has development potential, that much is factual. I've felt the depths of her Od, she has a true talent for Magic - and Magic is one of the few methods for Man to match Apostle in this war."

"That much I agree with, yes. But I am not familiar with the ways of the Od, so if you don't show results in her training, you better respond with a boot and the outside of the gates."

"You'll have a report on her accomplishments before you know it." You bet on Farnese's staying being essential in her growth.
"Either way, they better leave those crests behind. Especially if they plan on getting used to our rules."

"I'm surprised you're willing to stay in Ilos. Weren't you planning on expanding a base of operations in either Albion or the capital? I think it would be wiser to actively seek out hostile, powerful Apostles to consume. That way we can at least have less enemies at our doorstep when Femto makes his move."

"I have managed to secure the Santana estate - Cleaned the place and helped you end the plague after eating an apostle rat, you're welcome, by the by- but I am concerned about establishing a base right where the enemies will clash. Femto gave me a brief glimpse into his plans. He wants to take Princess Charlotte right under Ganishka's feet as he overtakes the castle, it's why he wanted me away, so it could all go according to his plan. And given how I've also managed to gather intel on Ganishka, I can describe his apostle form thanks to what one of his foot soldiers told me before I put him out of his misery. " Barnham takes the guts out of the animals he's eating and graphically muches it like popcorn. He sure has a flair for dramatics...

"He can project his form into fog, moisture that can bend air, water and lightning simultaneously. He doesn't even need to be where his released image is, just imagining a place to go is enough to be there."

"An advanced case of astral projection, to be sure..." You point out.
"Kalki was competent enough to run the place and the ring for a few weeks, but not for an undetermined amount of time. As much as the thought of inhaling Ganishka like with the puff of a pipe intrigues me, I could always just eat more Kushan armies to satiate my hunger."

Barnham expresses restraint in his true intentions, clasping harder at his blood chalice as it spills on the floor. Apostle blood would empower him a lot more and possibly make him go toe-to-toe with Zodd on their next encounter, but he seems to be controlling himself for the sake of his people. For an apostle in the flesh, he seems to grow more and more human with each further interaction.
>>
>>5258782
"My proposition would be to send Kalki back to the Santana estate. He is kushan, and would fit right in with their army should we properly disguise him. That way, we can have a mole inside their force while I stay here to command and train them with more than the spectacle of the ring. I expect you to not stay still, given you've implied I would leave Ilos with you?"

>Yes, my current plans are to... (Write-in)
>Sounds like a good plan, is there anything you need me to do?
>Did anything else happen at Wyndham? Did you really kill the king?
>I partially disagree with you plan. (Elaborate)
>Would Kalki be able to do something about my Od before leaving?
>Serpico and Hyde could use some additional training.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5258684
+1
If you want to make Barnham strong, I say we tell him to search for for the most capable gladiators and we form a team to Hunt Apostles. We bring their bodies to Barnham (maybe we should ask if they have to be fresh or if it doesn't matter) so he gets stronger.

It's stupid to left Illos without someone capable as Barnham and to a minor degree, us. It's going to end with some random Kushan troops or some of Griffith's bitch showing. So, unless we train Farnese and others to be some goddamn good magicians one has to stay.

I say we first teach people Magic, make sure to give Farnese some advanced classes and if you want, let Barnham go for some short apostle hunting. Then we go to fix our Od problem once Barnham comes back and luckly by that time there's a amount of decent mages to protect Illos
>>
>>5258785
>Would Kalki be able to do something about my Od before leaving?
>Serpico and Hyde could use some additional training.
>Did anything else happen at Wyndham? Did you really kill the king?
>Sounds like a good plan, is there anything you need me to do?
I'm on the fence about letting Kalki leave if they can do something to speed up our recovery or teach us kushan magic. Is it possible to learn kushan magic?
>>
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>>5258810
Only one way to find out...
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>>5258836
Time for Vlad to use LOADED DICE!!
>>
>>5258785
>I partially disagree with you plan. (Elaborate)
>Kalki is Kushan, but if he gets fingered for a mole we can kiss our only source of Kushan Magic goodbye. The same goes for if any of Griffith's forces go on a killing spree targeting the sorcerers specifically - it's what any sensible tactician would do, given the power they have available. Instead, we could try sending someone less valuable that could also pass for a Kushan with the right disguise - or spy on them more discretely with my ability to discern knowledge from animals, using trained animals such as hawks.
>We could then have Kalki train some of us - myself included - in the art of Kushan Sorcery so that we have a far greater level of magic forces available to us when the time comes. And I will teach what I know of my style of magic, as well, if you agree to this plan. In fact, if we go with this plan, I would be quite content to stay here for at least a little while, if you wanted to go hunting while I hold down the fort and organize our forces better. I do need some time to heal up, after all.

Thoughts, people? Anything you'd want to add, change, remove, etc?
>>
>>5258871
Looks good to me.
>>
>>5258871
Sounds about right, I'll back it.
>>
>>5258871
+1
>>
>>5257616
Waaait, shit, he said he felt nothing from Guts, MOON CHILD DIDN'T HAPPEN IN HIM, FUCK FUCK FUCK
>>
>>5258988
Femto constantly lies, why would you trust a single word to come out of his mouth? Hell, in that very scene we had:
>"Yeah bro I'm not salty at all, I don't hold a grudge from when I was human lmao"
>Proceeds to try his fucking hardest to humiliate us
>>
>>5259002
I'm paranoid
>>
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>>5258871
"I partially disagree with you plan." You open up with a starting argument. "Kalki is Kushan, but if he gets fingered for a mole we can kiss our only source of Kushan Magic goodbye. The same goes for if any of Griffith's forces go on a killing spree targeting the sorcerers specifically - it's what any sensible tactician would do, given the power they have available. Instead, we could try sending someone less valuable that could also pass for a Kushan with the right disguise - or spy on them more discretely with my ability to discern knowledge from animals, using trained animals such as hawks."

"I was hoping on sending him away because he's the only one I know who can speak with his mind over long distances. Letters would take too long and there is always the off chance of the messenger dying before even reaching close to Ilos. Civillians are too scared to approach us unless we either resort to forced labour, or send a soldier to do the job."

"Would you be willing to compromise if Kalki trained some of us - myself included - in the art of Kushan Sorcery so that we have a far greater level of magic forces available to us when the time comes? I could teach what I know of my style of magic, as well."

"Hmmph... I'm not so sure if one is able to teach magic so fast to amateurs. Even prodigies like you and Kalki don't seem to be fully immersed in that knowledge of the arts, right? I suppose I could agree to this plan, if you managed to teach at least one of these weaklings the art of telepathy." Barnham proposes a big gamble, but out of 50 people, surely at least one of them could pull it off, right?

"How much time do we have?"
"At most, after the first day of spring."

"I'll manage from here." You bluff, not sure if the plan would work in the slightest. Good thing you're the one who can call out lies, and not him. "In the meantime, I would be quite content to stay here for at least a little while, if you wanted to go hunting while I hold down the fort and organise our forces better. I do need some time to heal up, after all. My Od flow was clogged after Griffith's re-birthing, and I was hoping Kalki could help me with that."

"I'm afraid that's not really his area of expertise, you could certainly try to coax him into examinations, but it would be like asking a doctor to fix a horse's teeth. There is only so much he can do."

"I'm sure he can work as an intermediary until I find the real medicine, then. I will try to train them all as best I can, hopefully I'll learn something from it. Serpico and Hyde especially seem to have a lot to offer. Anything else you need to take care of?"
"No. I appreciate the opportunity to explore the world, though. I work better on my own anyway. I'll try to gather more information to our benefit."
>>
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>>5259274
"One more thing, Barnham." You turn over before leaving to act upon your plans with Kalki as Barnham's long fingernails finally grow enough to spike the bowl of intestines he was eating. "I can't quite put it into words, but I feel like you've changed somehow. Did something happen while you tried to kill King Wyndham?"

"...My fight against the king was the emptiest I've ever felt in a match of either intellect, strength, or political power... He was a mere dying man, corrupted by the plague and his own insanity. I might have decapitated him before he passed away, but frankly, I was already counting his last breaths in the palm of one hand. An empty victory, with no fanfare. I managed to accomplish exactly what I wanted to do: extinguish the royal family. But to my dismay, I exited the throne room feeling like I was the same man who entered it. Dreams are as empty as vengeance, and when you stop giving meaning to them, you will see yourself as empty as you were before, only know with the cursed gift of self-awareness."

"I didn't even eat the bastard, my taste buds didn't deserve his putrid flesh. I was only about to kill Charlotte out of impulse, until Griffith halted me. If you allow me to be introspective, maybe killing her would have felt just as empty as murdering her father. I needed something that would boil my blood, and the pain was just what I needed to remember why I fought, why I vowed to become stronger!"

"I now see that I had the same type of weakness the king had, he was weak in connections. A weak man surrounded by even weaker shell of men! I will admit that I was vehemently considering eating your head to fight Zodd once more, but seeing your gracious ascension as you sat onto the three and stared at Griffith from below, your eyes slowly following him as he briefly stood at your level when flying as you kept one hand on your chin! It dawned on me. Letting you act of your own free will gives makes me a lot more powerful than simply absorbing your power into my own."

"That's because two heads will always think better than one. I wonder if that's the same logic the God Hand uses when they tell the apostles to act a they choose."
"Maybe, maybe... The fact that you did not bend the knee at Griffith when I did proves that even if you are weaker than me in a fight, there are situations where it's best to leave you to your devices."
"Alright, it's nice to know that you'll at least tell me you want a piece of me the next time you're hungry." Your remark gets a chuckle out of Barnham as you plan your order of priorties in the training of your brigade.

>Healing your body.
>Training in Kushan magic.
>Improve your soul manipulation.
>Commission a new armor set.
>Teach your magic to the refugees.
>Use the gladiator ring to practice fights against Pishacas, getting some money from the bets in the meantime.
>Something else. (Write-in)
>>
>>5259312
Guessing we are listing our priorities?
Also knew it was critical to not bitch out to Griffith.
>1. Healing your body.
>2. Training in kushan magic.
>3. Teach magic.
Don't want to risk spreading our limited time and resources any further plus we have no idea what the problem with Vlad's soul is. If we get a long range telepath to do spy stuff before the dead line then I suppose we can work on other things.
>>
>>5259312
>1. Healing your body.
>2. Training in kushan magic.
>3. Teach magic.
But
>Commission a new armor set.
This is useful, and I am not going away without one. Carve in both armor, halberd and shortsword runes.

>Something else. (Write-in)
This said show Barnham that we could begin to carve (not scratch) the weapons and armors of our soldiers, with runes. Their properties can be many, be offensive or defensive, but they would be an advantage for our soldiers and would help them fight against demons or apostles. The magicians we train could learn of them.
Once we are healed, we could also use our seeds for create new fortifications across our lands. Or obstacles.
>>
Also explain that runes could be used even for a defense of a group of people. For example the group of refugees at the tower. Something more refined could be done in Ilos, but if it's done this runes should receive proper defenses.
>>
>>5259312
>1. Training in Kushan magic.
>2. Teach your magic to the refugees.
>3. Healing your body.
>>
>>5259405
>>5259406
+1
>>
>>5259405
+1, though keep in mind runed stuff that are meant to fuck with apostles can and will fuck with Barnham too, as he is one himself
>>
>>5259567
Forgot to add >>5259406 to my vote
And somehow bullshitting to make the runes at Ilos specifically exclude Barnham could be turned against us, if in the future Barnham gets hijacked by the God Hand and they command him to kill everybody in Ilos then himself
>>
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>>5259405
Alright then, gimme a 3d100: First for healing, second for new magic, 3rd for teach. The new armor and the rune carving is easy money so you can have these as freebies.
Roll!
>>
Rolled 1, 70, 16 = 87 (3d100)

>>5259584
This roll defies causality.
>>
Rolled 43, 81, 4 = 128 (3d100)

>>5259584
>>5259589
>Critfail
Fucking causality
>>
Rolled 12, 65, 76 = 153 (3d100)

>>5259584
more time for healing lmao
>>
Rolled 28, 19, 35 = 82 (3d100)

>>5259589
SHIT THATS BAD.
>>
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>>5259589
>>5259593
>>5259596
>First canon critfail I'll have to take into consideration.
Wew, guess Kalki really does suck at healing magic.

At least it didn't happen in a life or death roll? Guess we'll have to look for a professional next time...
>>
>>5259602
Time to snort that elven dust, i am right folks ?
More seriously i suppose this will be explained has some sort of soul venom or similar condition that the god hand throw at us, after finding not very funny what we did at the tower.
Maybe we can assimilate it or purge it. We have our exocizing od after all.
>>
uhm perhaps even weaponizing it ? Unlikely since it sounds like dark sorcery. Though a magical venom to use on demonic souls doesn't sound bad in our arsenal.
>>
>>5259589
>>5259593
>>5259596
>1 on healing
>81 on learning new magic
>76 on teaching magic
>>
>>5259593
griffith may be a spiteful cunt but i will never stop fighting causality even if causality throws critfails at my way
why?
because i'm way more spiteful than griffith
>>
>>5259589
ANON WHY DID YOU PROVOKE CAUSALITY???AHHHHHHH
>>
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>>5259659
Because I will destroy Causality with my own two hands, no matter the consequences.
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>>5259674
Yeap, this thread is cursed
>>
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>>5259674
>anon:
>>
>>5259002
hahaha
>>
>>5259589
>>5259593
>>5259596
First things first, you meet Kalki to see what exactly is wrong with your body, and while his examination is precise, his diagnosis is worrying to say the least.

"My God... I have never seen anything like this... What have you done with your soul?"
"What do you see?"
"Usually, a living creature's soul is meant to have a fixed shape, one that is molded by the form of your body, and while your soul is pure white, in a much better color than you would expect from someone who walks with apostles so frequently, the shape... there is an ever-growing crater eating at your soul."

"Wh-what? How is that possible? Was it always there?"
"On closer inspection... Your soul is filled with several follicles, like the mends of a quilt, there are several elements that give them several small holes for it to enter and exit. It's like your soul was a sponge of energy." Kalki explains that your soul was always different from the start, given your astral background, this a surprise to absolutely nobody, but it is interesting to think of how your soul is technically a patchwork made to adapt into whatever interacted with it, something like a filter.

"And why is my soul full of holes?"
"I'm not sure, souls were always meant to be complete, but yours looks more like an empty skin-suit for someone to wear, I don't know if it was always like this, or if the destruction was done from the inside... I imagine forcing yourself to do more magic in this state would only strain on your lifespan."

"No wonder I could not astral project or do more than absorb and release... I would easily be engulfed by stronger entities if my soul exited out of my body... Is there a way to fix this?"
"That depends... do you know something that could make your soul whole again? The way I see things going, unless we plug the hole with something, your body is bound to lock itself into doing magic when something passes through you as a safety measure."

...Sivir's orb was the artefact she used to escape the swamp of the silver-eyed with legs she did not originally have... Could it be that when Hedwyn sacrificed the forest to get you to safety, he found a way to turn part of your ethereal soul into a physical object?
While it didn't break completely when Sivir used it to save you from the God Hand, it's possible that even if you retrieved it, your whole pool won't be as powerful as it was meant to be when you were originally conceived.

"I could try doing something, but it would take some time. Can I still learn and teach magic despite these injuries?"
"The fact that you can even do magic in such a dishevelled state is astounding!" Kalki thinks of the grandiosity of your final form, if that is even possible to achieve anymore with Sivir's passing. "I could try to fix it temporarily, but I'm not sure I can manage-"
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>>5260143
>>5260143
"Please, we only have so much time to figure this out." You plead to Kalki, underestimating how difficult it would be to have a full recovery.

Despite laying half naked four hours at a time while Kalki dug through your pressure points and carefully tried to connect with your soul through acupuncture, the most it did was temporarily relieve you of the pain for a few hours, and given how you always had to do upkeep on your body so your muscles didn't disappear, while learning new kushan spells and teaching all you could know to the remaining soldiers and refugees on the daily, the patches of your soul were quickly undone by the end of the day, whatever alternative medicine he used was also temporary. Even with going so far as to seeing if your newly formed group of sorcerers were able to do any intricate healing, none of them, not a single one could even figure out where to start with solving your peculiar case.

"Sorry, this is all I can do with my current knowledge. To sew someone's soul is something I never thought I would have to do, and the precision of such procedures is something best let to a professional." Kalki apologises on lacking the sub-molecular vision to stop you from burning through all of your stamina to do basic magic that you didn't have a lot of trouble doing before. Even absorbing people's energy seemed to burn you out before the donor did...

"That's fine, I've spoken to Barnham about the problem before he left, maybe he will find someone who's more specialised in Soul manipulation."

"I have a hard time believing he'll find someone who can do that so easily... Even with my abilities, all progress was undone during our next examination. Maybe something else must be added to the ritual..."

"Guess I can say goodbye to animal possession... At least there are a few other things I learned with you." You complain, but still reminding yourself that a lot of Kushan magic was very similar in execution as the practices you did in the swamps with Merlina, and when attempting to revisit them, you managed to pick up a few things:

Your telepathy has improved thanks to Kalki's teachings! You can now telepathically read the minds of people from up to a hundred meters, provided there is no magical interference. Additionally, the clairvoyance Merlina used in the swamps to watch over different lands is also something you can do now, so long as you have a clear surface of water to pull the Od from. It's worth noting that despite it's added range, you cannot interact with the visions of the present, only observing the passing of events, but you can combine both abilities if the place you're overseeing is close to your own body, again, as long as nobody interferes.
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>>5260175
Kalki revealed to you that a common strategy amongst Kushan sorcerers is to block the Od Flow of weaker magicians to impede them from using any spells. As such, he introduced you the ability to use Od Silence, though with your sickly soul, it remains to be tested in real combat.

It seems that you have reached the current limits of what your body can do in terms of magic without learning the crucial step of Astral Projection. According to Kalki, it is an essential ritual in learning elemental magic, which thanks to your inability to do so, you were forced to learn it backwards, from the most advanced spells to the most basic ones. The sorcerer even recognised a foreseeable natural ability of yours to learn shielding: making a magical barrier with the powers of your hands that would negate the utility of the strongest of shields, and with how many times your soul would sometimes wobble out of your body if you weren't paying attention, it was as if your own spirit was asking you to be freed of it's flesh shackles.

Learn and Master Astral projection before being able to learn of your unleashed potential and your ultimate abilities.

Before long, you noticed that you were the only one who was able to conjure any sort of spells before consulting a book. For you, it was second nature and barely took any effort, but for the beginners, most of them required an absurd amount of energy gathered from the entire group to even do an Od Blast similar to yours, and even then, it was more like an Od Firecracker Barrage with how small and uncoordinated it was.

Seeing how your people were having such trouble with the spells you found basic, you instructed them on using the powers of the elementals to forge weapons carved in a few empowered runes. Like the plants that grew in Michelle's crop field, they were fuelled by the sun itself, being used in rotation between day and night sets so one wouldn't run out of energy from overuse.

"Lord Vlad... If I man bother you with my pleads, I would like to stay with this book of spells, if you find yourself without much use of it. Since the gladiator ring still needs to be used, I was hoping to also test my abilities with the intent of mass producing enchanted armors for my Pishachas. It would be a good way to test how strong the average man can be with these new abilities. Perhaps if enough people learn and study it's methods, they will be able to ignore conventional durability and attack the soul itself, much like you do with your purifying strikes. That alone would make a regular Pishacha strong enough to fight against two others of it's kind. And with numbers not being our main advantage, I figured I could offer some counselling."

>Give Kalki the book and let him develop enchanted armors in the ring.
>Keep the book to yourself, you dont know him well enough to trust him with that kind of power.
>>
Sorry for the delay today, given it's Mother's Day and all I figure you people should be somewhat busy too.

The day was fun tho, managed to shop at the local bookstore and get a few of the volumes I didn't own physically. Only 6 more of them and I'll own the entire collection.

Now the most kino spread of Berserko sits on my bookshelf, thanks mom.
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>>5260214
>>Keep the book to yourself, you dont know him well enough to trust him with that kind of power.
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>>5260214
>Give Kalki the book and let him develop enchanted armors in the ring - on one condition. You want something important to him as well, collateral to ensure he uses the book responsibly.
I like Kalki so far, he seems pretty nice. I want to trust him, but it'd be unwise to FULLY trust him when we don't know him all that well. Still - I wouldn't mind getting to know him more, he's an interesting character.
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>>5260214
>Give Kalki the book and let him develop enchanted armors in the ring.
Let's throw him a bone and trust him with the book. He seems trustworthy and hasn't given us any reason to distrust him yet. Let's see what results he has to offer.
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>>5260232
+1
Kalki and the general with Baki-esque guards looks like legit people, but we still need to know Kalki better and know more about his true ambitions and where is loyalty is. Because let's face it, him being a Kushan and being with Barnham, doesn't mean he can switch sides when they see we make horrible things to his people
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>>5260232
Same here, a powerful Kushan mage would be great to have in our corner
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>>5260214
>Give Kalki the book and let him develop enchanted armors in the ring.
Nothing like a crit fail on the most important fucking roll, plus Vlad is slowly rotting from the inside out it looks like and if the patchwork monster attacks Vlad is likely fucked without a heavy bodyguard.
We still need someone with long range telepathy so Kalki doesn't have to do spy work and be incapable of anything else while at great risk.
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>>5260214
Wait...what would happen if we used our soul as ground for absorbing Od?
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>>5260214
>Give Kalki the book and let him develop enchanted armors in the ring.
But on the condition he makes sure its destroyed so it doesn't fall in the wrong hands.
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>>5260232
"Of course, Kalki." You bait him into getting closer to the book, only to pull it out of his fingers when he tries to open it. "On one condition. See, I don't know a lot about you, and though you haven't done anything to me personally, you can pardon me if I sound a little paranoid in wanting to know more about you, so I can fully trust you in your enchantments. Even in your regular armor, the color of your skin is a dead giveaway of your Kushan origins, so I would like you to lend me something important to you as well, if possible."

"...Something of personal importance? That's a difficult offer for me to comply, my Lord." Kalki ponders on what he could give you. "I suppose money isn't exactly what you're looking for, but I am a simple overseer to Barnham's government. What else can I offer to you but my life?"

"You could start with your story, I might be weak, but placing hand on your head is still enough to detect any lies." You ask him to stay in front of you as you place a finger between his eyes.

"I was too young to properly remember my parents' faces . Barnham is the one who knows all the details. From what I've gathered, my mother was a tailor who was taken as a war prisoner, I have no clue who my father could be, probably someone who raped her during her stay in Midland. I could have been born with regular features, yet as you've mentioned before Lord Vlad, the color of my skin gives it all away."

"I was told to hide my face, tried bleaching my skin, painting it, but we were still kicked out of our households whenever villages grew too aware of our presence. Out of all places to go, my mother walked into Ilos, and once she heard the rules, she thought she had a chance to find peace:"

"Why would I care about the color of your skin, or what language you speak? I only care about your fighting prowess."

"My mother was never a fighter, the closest thing to a spike she had in hands was a needle, but she did carry the item that you would call The Behelit. So you could imagine how much people laughed at her when she entered the ring to fight a gladiator... with a single, purple needle."

"Did she win? The Behelit is supposed to activate in dire conditions."
"That's the part nobody understood. Her head was split in two as one of the soldiers struck my mother, but suddenly the other fighter fell silent, unmoving. His head was dripping blood from several small holes, as if he was punctured a hundred times through his armor by a needle, my mother's foe died to a tailor with unseen hands. It was a technical tie, nobody won, nobody lost, so Barnham let me do as I wished."

"And you don't resent Barnham for her death?"
"Why would I? He gave me access to several books he kept around from defeated Kushan. I don't even know why he kept it there, maybe he's just never seen a Kushan before and wanted to keep me as a pet, but as I studied, I thought of learning something that would impress him."
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>>5260318
Holy shit, is Kalki's mom an etherial apostle secretly watching over him?
God damn, he's practically vlad's brother with a backstory like that.
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>>5260318
"So you learned about Pishacha and how to control them."

"Exactly, I grew accustomed to his culture, and though I wasn't a formidable fighter, when my time came to do so, I turned the animal he sent to devour me into something I could control. He was impressed at how much I managed to learn overnight, and let me stay as an official soldier. Only one thing has bothered me from this whole ordeal, when I asked him about the needle-"

"I don't know where it went to." You see Barnham speaking in Kalki's POV.
"H-how could you not go after it? Doesn't it intrigue you that a single needle killed one of your soldiers?"
"If he was so weak that he died to a needle, then he was a soldier not worth remembering. Besides, it's a needle, it was bound to get lost. Now get back to work."

"...Was my mother's spirit into her item of work? Did she refuse the God Hand's contract? If she accepted it, then what did she sacrifice, if no apostle was found? Maybe I would know, if I could inspect the needle, but the object I value the most... Is something I've never seen in the first place."

You let go of Kalki's forehead, not a single lie was detected.

"I can't offer a valuable item, but I hope that was enough to prove my loyalty. I might be a Kushan, but that doesn't mean I automatically align with Ganishka's ideals of being the ruler of everything. Especially because that title already belongs to Barnham."

You raise an eyebrow at how Kalki stays loyal to a man who had no remorse in killing his mom and wonder if he was just groomed into enjoying his work from receiving the bare minimum in return, but that's a comment you'll keep to yourself.

"Here is my proposal: Since we are also training weaponsmiths, it's only fair the first perfected armor set would be yours to use. You don't even have to test it in the arena, that's what the other gladiators are for. I imagine the viewers would be in for quite the spectacle, even seeing a fight between our weakest men."

You think back on the last armor set you had. While protective and useful for hiding your face, you did have a few problems with it, what tips you could give Kalki on what to enchant it with?

"Now, if I may?" He reaches his hands for the book.

>Give him the book.
>Don't give him the book.
>Make my armor lighter.
>Make it sturdier.
>Make it fancier.
>Make one for my horse.
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>>5260352
>Give him the book.
>Make it sturdier.
Lighter is for pussys.
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>>5260352
>Give him the book.
>Make my armor lighter.
Vlad's fighting style revolves around being fast and AVOIDING hits, whenever we take a hit it's usually from some absurdly strong enemy where sturdiness won't be THAT good. Besides that, Gunpowder will be more effective with a lighter overall rider.
>If you have time for it as well, would you mind making one for my Horse to match?
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>>5260352
>Give him the book.
>Make my armor lighter.
Stick to the style
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>>5260375
+1
MFs still wanna push for the Guts rute when we should have maxed INT and DEX, but with our cripple Soul now we only got DEX for the moment.

Also QM, if Vlad should is degrating or it's somewhat hollow... Is it possible to ask Kalki if he can do an Astral Projection to talk with some Spirit for us, see if we like that Spirit, and make that Spirit to bond to us like a temporal solution of our problem? I'm thinking of something like Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive
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>>5260406
>somewhat hollow
No Humanity?
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>>5260406
>Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive
Mind giving me a rundown? I might need something other than anime for reference if I plan on delving with more original material.

I'm not sure if spirits would work that way with this type of magic, they can give you a few blessings, but even if Kalki could serve as a middle man so the spirits could bond with Vlad, it would work more like possession, you offer your body as host and they clean the place for you when you sign their contract if we're going by canon magic.

On Silver Eyed rules they just use the natural juices that are out there in the atmosphere to connect with the spirits and use their souls to practically ring at their doorbell so you can borrow some of their power with runes. Using blood forces them to get out and really do a lot of shit but that banishes you into only doing that sort of dark magic because the spirits got pissed off.

Vlad's spirit affinity might invite spirits to his body, but if the last time he got possessed is anything to go by, it won't be nice ones.
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>>5260428
>Mind giving me a rundown?
Well sure.

In that book there is heavy magical influence, like for example you could see like 10 Pucks like in front of you, it doesn't matter if you're a Spirit, Magician or Human.

That's because in that setting, the spirits (that are called Spren if I can recall) are bound to peoples feelings. Like for example, when Vlad was in that fight with Barnham or even after the Incarnation Ritual, if he was in the Stormlight Archive's World there could be Pain-Spren, like red flesh-like hands crawling in Vlad's skin. And that's for everything, from emotions to other abstract things like the Wind, Fire, Rot and more, but what you can see of those Spren are actually like a 5% of them, like their whole beings cross the Veil between the Material World and the Cognitive World.

In that series of Books, the people can turn in magical super knights, ONLY of the spirits finds you worth of their power, if your ideals align to their, and if you follow their Oath. And in those Magical Knights there's different Houses with different Oaths to follow. Like for example be someone truly honest, always saying they truth and seeking justice.

The way for you to gain more power is by following different levels of your Oath, and with the more you advance with your Spren and follow their Ideals, you can say the Words.

Idk if i'm explaining myself well, maybe I'm going in circles but that's because i'm trying to translate all that I read + having some bad memory about the Books.

To put it more short and clear, the person should first show to the Spirits they have what it takes, to see if the person follows the same way of thinking of the Spirits, and once the Spirits see them worth, both make an Oath to grant abilities to the Person, from fast healing to actually flying or make illusions. It's more something symbiotic than something like the Possesion Vlad went through
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Cindy found the needle and thus Zhafira was born. I am not a conspiracy theorist.
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>>5260447
Ah, interesting. I'm not sure if it could be implemented similarly in our rules though, maybe after The astral and the physical realm become one, but who's really counting on that, you know?

>>5260375
Light as a feather then, writing.
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>>5260406
Well, for healing…Kalki did say our soul was like a sponge. I think a viable healing tactic could be to build a shrine with runes etched on it and offerings left around it to attract spirits of Light, Purification, Healing, Life, etc to accumulate those aspects of Od that mesh well with ours there. We could spend as much time as we can afford near that shrine to soak up the od passively and start patching up our gaping soul wounds, maybe even convince one of those spirits to inhabit our armor as an alternative to inhabiting is directly?
Alternatively, we hunt for the Violet Needle to stitch our soul wound closed with.
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>>5260375
>>5260402
>>5260406
"Understood, M'lord." Kalki bows at your feet after you handed not only the books, but the instructions on what you wished to use for the improved version of your armor set. As much as you're getting used to the pain on your body, you can't really abuse it since your bread and button combo of agility and magic is lacking it's butter. Pain tolerance is nice, but it doesn't fix the hole in your soul.

The crows boos at your sudden announcement on not killing combatants since that's what the gladiator rings are used for, instead using the place as a testing ground for soldiers to improve their prowess with different sorts of armors. But fighting against the Pishacas proved to be a very efficient way of experimenting what these new effects were able to do, and though you would leave Ilos before seeing the full results of said research, you could already confirm that the crowd was a big fan of soldiers that could move faster, jump farther and last longer in general thanks to their extra attributes.

Hyde and Serpico in particular turned into fan-favourites during their short tag-team fights, earning some good money in their bets as they fought a group of Pishacha Tigers controlled by Kalki and some amateur casters. Neither of them held back, but Hyde's crowd control thanks to his slingshot pellets mixed with Serpico's close quarters combat proved to be a deadly duo that could easily take down the mightiest of foes.

"I'm not used to the attention... Hyde, did people usually start clapping and chanting your name when you killed some animal on your way?"
"Just take the compliments, Serpico! This is a lot easier than my old job, I don't even need to deskin the animals to get paid!" Hyde brings his arms up to commemorate his victory, thinking of what to do with the betting money.
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>>5260520
While weight manipulation is the most Kalki could offer for you and Gunpowder, it was more than enough for you to be thankful. Really, it was nothing short of a miracle that he managed to teach this to smiths and the new army of training magicians. If Kalki stays in Ilos, you can rest assured that they will be in good hands when they come back.

Speaking of teachings, most people managed to write and use wards, fewer were able to control the dwindling number of Pischacas - as there were only so many animals they could buy that could turn into aggressive monsters - and in that circle Kalki only counted three of them that could eventually learn astral projection, with Farnese being one of them.

Farnese was always very attentive and obedient, a stark contrast to how you've met her, being present in all of the seminars and hiding her results when you were examining the students, afraid that her performance was sub-par when really, she managed to master Od manipulation and healing in only a few days.

When asked to alter her appearance, she asked you to visit her personally before starting that day's lesson. Whether she wanted to know a second opinion on how well disguised she was or if she wanted to discuss something else with her new looks was something you would only find out when reaching her room.

"Whoa... Almost didn't recognise you while you were turned around." You greet her with a warm smile as she notices your presence. Her back-length hair kept up by her pigtails was now replaced by a boyish pixie cut, one that better hid her ears but accentuated her eyes and lips.

"I am not used to seeing men with flocks longer than mine, either." She claps back, poking fun at you being the one needing a ponytail before returning to a more neutral, deviant stare.

"...What do you think?"

With a woman's hair being her pride, it was surprising how she didn't even think twice before cutting it once you suggested a change in appearance... Was she fishing for a compliment or something?

>It should be enough for people not to recognize you.
>I think the change wasn't radical enough, someone will know it's you.
>Pretty cute, you said you wanted to change on the inside, might as well do it on the outside too, it fits.
>I was a fan of your pigtails, I'm going to miss them.
>This isn't about me, what do you think of it?
>Write-in.
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>>5260494
Maybe, we could also look for artifacts. It's also clear though, that Sivir Orb must be fundamental for us, absorbing it would be quite nice. The shrine isn't a bad idea, but I am reminded by the difference between church and magicians in berserk, with having a temple in your heart or just a physical one. Beyond this, we could see if we can transform an enemy in pure od and take it in. But I reckon the last one is something we can't do.
If we stay here longer, sparring with Barnham and the others should be fine. In regard to the Needle we could try and sense it, but it's a hard guess, I am also not sure if it will actually be able to stitch our own soul, or if it's just a weapon. I suppose it would increase our relation with Kalki if we find it somehow.
>>5260528
>Write-in.
"You look very cute, but what do you think of it ? I can see is more practical for travel and combat, longer hair could be used against you by a foe and it takes less time to clean and groom``''
"And do you believe it's enough to fool people about your heritage ? Or do you have other ideas that you will use alongside your new haircut, for not being recognized ?"
"Dyeing them, can be an option. Even a spell. Clothing of course too."
" ...... Though who knows will it even matter in the future ? Honestly, you have the potential to become an exceptional magician and warrior if you keep up with the lessons and fights. So far you did it, just remember that your own will and resolve need to be important as well. When you reach that point your heritage might not even matter that much, in comparison to you."
"And do not be afraid to question my actions or ideas, or offer your own much like Serpico, Hyde and Barnham do. I am hardly infallible or perfect."
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>>5260528
>Pretty cute, you said you wanted to change on the inside, might as well do it on the outside too, it fits.
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>>5260588
+1
Farnese being so subservient and meek that she goes along with everything Vlad says without questioning is itself something worrisome. "she didn't even think twice before cutting it once you suggested a change in appearance" right there.

>>5260528
OP, that one girl in Elden Ring literally has Farnese's new haircut, if you didn't know that
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>>5260879
Yeah I'm aware, the Berserk references in Elden Ring are a lot more blatant than Dark Souls. Not that I'm complaining though, not like we're getting a Berserk vidya anytime soon. If my plans of upgrading my PC by the end of the year goes through I'll play it along with Sekiro

>>5260588
>>5260589
>>5260879
Locking on the good write-in. Posting the update soon!
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>>5260588
>>5260589
>>5260879
>>5260588
"You look very cute, I can see is more practical for travel and combat, longer hair could be used against you by a foe and it takes less time to clean and groom." You give a tug on where her hair should be before she changed styles, emphasising the difference in length.

"You flatter me... I didn't figure your mother would be so good at using scissors, but the cut feels just right." She was definitely a lot more focused on the first half of the sentence.
"But do you believe it's enough to fool people about your heritage? Or do you have other ideas that you will use alongside your new haircut, for not being recognised? We could always dye it or change some of our clothes."

"I still need to be recognised by my family, remember? I want to clear your name in Vritannis, so I can't show up without some sort of resemblance to who I was previously... At least it's enough to fit the changes I am going through."

"Yeah, it fits. You said you wanted to change on the inside, might as well have a makeover on the outside."
"It's like my reflection finally shows the face of who I wanted to be... Enough concealing, enough shedding tears. I want to face myself. It's liberating, to not pretend that you're someone else for all time."

"I'm glad you're starting to feel better,you have the potential to become an exceptional magician and warrior if you keep up with the lessons and fights. So far you did it with splendid speed, just remember that your own will and resolve need to be important as well. When you reach that point your heritage might not even matter that much, in comparison to you."

"...Do you really mean that? I was only copying what I've seen you doing previously. I still have a long way to go until learning astral projection."
"It's hard to teach a new spell when nobody's leading by example, don't beat yourself over this. And do not be afraid to question my actions or ideas, or offer your own much like Serpico, Hyde and Barnham do. I am hardly infallible or perfect."

"I really dont feel like commanding anyone after what happened with Mozgus... I'm not sure if it will be a permanent decision, but for now, I'm just fine blindly following your orders."

"Got it, I'll start babying you from now on." You joke as you give a pat on her shoulder.
"N-No need to go that far!" She blushes. "But there is indeed something I wish to discuss with you. It's about... Us."

"Fire away." She winces at the mention of fire, not appreciating the pun.
"Yeah... We've been through a lot, haven't we? It's hard to believe we started off the way we did now, and since I am making an effort to be more honest with myself, I want to be more honest with you."
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>>5260933
"I was serious when I said that you gave meaning to my life. But two years of dreaming about you so closely associated with sending sinners to the pyre... I cant help by associate your face with pain, and pain with pleasure... It's distracting." Farnese admits to still having sadist tendencies at heart.

"And what have you done to repress those thoughts?"
"...I haven't repressed them. I've accepted that these they are intrusive, but they reflect the person I've been in the church... Which is why I know how dangerous it is for me to stay at your side."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Well... I've found it increasingly nerve-wracking to remember what I did to you in my interrogations, or what you've done to me when possessed by those monsters... And as much as those experiences were traumatic... I was also enamoured by them, they were not enough. Which is why I would appreciate if we agreed on where we stood as of late."

The fact that Farnese has had a twisted crush on you this entire time and that she has ferociously masturbated to dying torture victims would eventually intertwine, and she's having a lot of difficulty expressing herself given the distasteful subject.

"You know this isn't exactly normal behaviour, right? You tell this to any other man, he would walk right out the door."

"I know the difference of right and wrong, but I can't help how I feel. Every time we stare at each other's eyes, I have to hold back the thought of sinking my nails into your skin until I see blood. But I am also changing into someone who would easily jump off a cliff if I witnessed your passing... When I saw The Falcon Of Darkness threatening to kill you... For the first time, I was afraid of something happened to a person other than me. I can't imagine living in a world where you are dead." Her psychotic tendencies are clashing with her newfound powers and identity, and she's keenly aware of it. Maybe being more passive lately is a way for her to suppress the urge to pounce on you.

"Not all of my thoughts should be exposed, I know. But since it involves you, I figured you should know about the Farnese you're bringing to your journey. I would like to try feeling normal with you, but given the intensity of my feelings, and how any of us could die in the following day- Maybe it's best to put those feelings aside, with you being so busy already, rejection would be understandable, neither of us should get too attached."
She says, already being too attached. Even love has to be problematic with this girl, like it's either killing you if she has it her way, and killing herself if she doesn't.

>I wouldn't mind if we worked through this, slowly, of course.
>Not to offend, but your intensity might be a bit too much.
>I see nothing wrong with being a little kinky.
>Maybe we should put this on hold, there is indeed a lot of things to worry about.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5261002
>I see nothing wrong with being a little kinky.
>>
>>5261002
>I see nothing wrong with being a little kinky.
>If I'm being totally honest, nothing you can do would hold a candle to what Barnham did to me in the ring, and I'm great friends with him now. Seriously, that guy's too intense when he's having a good time...
>>
>>5261002
>I see nothing wrong with being a little kinky
>I wouldn't mind if we worked through this, slowly, of course
Remind her we are technically part plant, and some plants need fire to... germinate. I refuse to turn down or reject Farnese this quest. Its too good a dynamic to ditch. But let's face facts, Vlad is injured inside and out currently. A slow burn benefits both parties here, inside and outside closed areas.
>>
>>5261049
>+1
>>
>>5261002
>I see nothing wrong with being a little kinky.
Somewhere, Slan is furiously aroused and she knows EXACTLY why.
>>
>>5259674
Conrad has now cursed this thread, we're all gonna die.
>>
>Anons locking in on the firepussy route.
It's finally canon now then, wouldn't have it any other way. Writing.
>>
>>5261030
>>5261047
>>5261049
>>5261055
>>5261065
"Personally, Farnese, I see nothing wrong with being a little kinky. Lucky for you, I am not like most men, either." Your phrasing of Farnese's extreme fetishes are nearly enough to make her fall over. "If I'm being totally honest, nothing you can do would hold a candle to what Barnham did to me in the ring, and I'm great friends with him now. Did you know, for instance, that some plants have evolved to tolerate the high temperatures of fire? In some cases, it even helps then... to better germinate." You place your fingers on her chin as her dilated pupils go in all directions.

"W-Wha-? But I- We- I don't-" Your flustered apprentice is rendered speechless as you turn the tables on her.
"H-How many times will I have to tell you 'I'm crazy' for you to understand?"
"That's the best part, Farnese. I've seen all there is to see with regular women, they bore me. If I were to stay with someone, I would rather have someone who reflects my view of this world's insanity." You reflect on how a lifetime in isolation and trying to fit into role models would naturally lead the both of you into falling on each other's arms.

"Don't blame me when I put you into trouble then..."
"Oh, please do. You're adorable when you think you can intimidate me." You let go of her chin, just as she started to lean it into your fingers. "But perhaps it's best that we take this slowly, of course. I wouldn't exactly call it trauma, but the last time I touched you inappropriately, I nearly got kicked into infertility, so I'm not exactly rushing into a relationship either, if you catch my drift. I had plenty of time to be addicted to sex and to ignore my desires when I grew out of adolescence. We can save the fun for when I'm in better conditions."

"U-understood!" Farnese nods. "Let's refrain from getting too touchy, but before that..." Farnese stands on the tip of her toes and gives you a peck on the cheek.
"There. This makes it official."

"I guess I should return the favor?" You reach for her cheek, but your lips are blocked by her hand.
"No. A maiden's first kiss is a memory she cannot forget, I will decide when it's time to break our boundaries." Farnese puffs her chest, establishing some sort of dominance in the relationship, one that you would come to question just from the fact that she hasn't had a kiss this late in life.
"Don't mind me if I show you what a real kiss looks like when you give me the sign."
"...Please do." She daringly repeats your words, before following you for today's magical lesson. Only her is able to have such charm just after making several threats to your life. Oh, Farnese...
>>
>>5261222
Granted, it wasn't the first time she kissed you, but now it really felt genuine, instead of meaning to kiss Serpico, you wonder if you should mention that to her eventually...

Promising Returns: Chapter End
>>
>>5261230
Another chapter where we don't die. That's a win in my book boys.
>>
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Will be going into a break for around 3 days to take care of some things, hopefully this was a good stopping point.

I liked running thoughout the day, it's slower on the short term but it also lets me progress through the story faster in the long term since there won't be one to two weeks with absolutely no update or progress going on.

Let me know what you thought of this chapter and the change in pace overall. Felt like it was necessary given how I got sick mid-session at the start of the thread but I know some people tend to miss posts when changing session hours so suddenly.

And don't worry about the lack of action, next time we pick this up we'll be forging the team together, getting an improved wagon and going into familiar territory... But where?
Find out this Thursday!
>>
>>5260879
Yes she should talk more with other people. And understand that we do want her to think with her head, and have a will and ideas.
Now the orb of Sivir, i have no idea where she is. That s the real problem more than the demons/apostles in between. Not knowing where she is, heavily affects the time of travel. For arrival and for get back to Ilos. Because we want to return here, so we can improve Ilos further, for the war that is coming.

Before the travel, we might want to prepare further. Sparring and some physical exercise, as well testing different spells. And improvment of Ilos defenses.
When we are ready, we can begin the travel. Hopefully we can find someone that can help us on the road.

>>5261230
It was very good becchi, thank you.


>>5261260
Np take your break.
The change of pace is fine.

And for action, well we needed to do this stuff in Ilos. It was a must, for improve our "kingdom" with Barnham. Now it's stronger than before. But finding more allies might be needed, or ancient artifacts. Besides our equipment is all improved now, not with scratched runes done during a battle but actual ones made with care and with an idea in mind.

I suppose we can finally go to our estate now, so that we can dropkick the kraken statue for symbolism and take a memento of the pegasus statue. Also give our thanks and respect to Gallahad and Dad bones. And then....
Wait uh, Dodrey is near our family estate.
A big fortress would be a decent addition to our kingdom, no ? It s kind of ruined with that hole made by Zodd, but its a fortress. Lol we would be near the Tudor Empire
>>
>>5261260
The change of pace was good because we're too fucked up for action right now. It'll be nice when we can heal our GAPING ASTRAL WOUNDS though - hopefully repeated exposure to so many asshole god-hand is helping us to develop some kind of resistance to them, I don't know that we can afford to keep taking wounds like this just from brushing paths with them. Honestly, since our soul is sponge-like, I'm almost expecting it to be somewhat like the Dragonslayer becoming astrally powerful by soaking in demon blood. Repeated exposure to god hand od might make our own od anathema to them in time.

In other news, I'm really liking Kalki and his backstory. I think he has a lot of potential as a possible party member in the future. I hope he doesn't die a horrible death or anything like that, haha...ha...
>>
And we get back the elite knight crossbow we left here so long ago !
Joking unless we have hidden it somewhere, the peasants or the demon rats might have break it. Or just loot it. Then again, we have already two weapons, magic and a knife. But we could gift the crossbow to Hyde. He doesn't have many weapons now that I think about it neither armor.
The elite crossbow and a shortsword should suffice. Plus a light armor.
>>
>>5261230
I definitely 100% think that Farnese should become a pyromancer and channel her sadistic psychotic tendencies into fighting the enemy. And come on! If she does develop pyromancer we have to help her use it to teach her how to cook!! Just imagine a cute little Farnese cooking our meals for us after an intense battle.
>>
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>>5261290
Good to know!
I'd say that as long as Barnham or Kalki stay in Ilos there isn't much to worry about in terms of preparations, unless you want to do something fancy like hiding the perimiter of the city with magical plants or something, but I'd say these sort of developments take longer than a season to make any significant changes. Maybe next time you return it'll be in better terms.

>>5261291
>Spoiler
That's kind of what Vlad's already been doing by imbueing his energy onto his blade to fight apostles, but having something to do it passively for him would actually be pretty dope

Me? Killing well established characters that are in good terms with Vlad just so he could suffer? I would never! If Ganishka turns into Ganigga anywhere near Ilos they're all dead dead.

>>5261298
>Elite crossbow
What do you think ratface shot at Barnham with?
Hyde does need some upgrades if you want to bring him along, I should think of something for him if anons don't just steal one of his harpy daughters for the ride instead of him.

>>5261363
Now cooking with Farnese is starting to sound like good epilogue material
>>
>>5261403
If Farnese starts cooking, I have a feeling the food will kill us long before The God Hand gets a shot.
>>
>>5261403
Upgrades? Hyde doesn't need any upgrades. David beat Goliath with a mere sling and an ordinary stone from a riverbed.
A lot of people underestimate the sheer amount of damage that slings can cause. If you get proficient with it, you can use basically any fuckin' pebble on the floor to break bones and kill the average person with ease. Pair it with his specialty ammunition and he's already a force of nature.
Well...I guess he could always start developing MORE special ammunition types. Little gel-balls that rupture on impact and ignite into a sticky substance that clings to the target. Or ones that undergo a chemical reaction to cool them rapidly instead to cause frostbite. Or ones filled with acid...or poison/venom...or even a tightly packed deadly mushroom that releases an assload of inhalable spores when it impacts.
In short, he doesn't need upgrades as much as he does...creativity.
>>
>>5261147
Vlad has had to suffer the loss of his birth mother, losing his mentor's cloak and an incredibly powerful anti-demon weapon overall, most of his stuff, getting possessed and nearly having his soul destroyed by a demon god, and recently losing Benny due to a very poor choice-of-words at the boy's weakest moment and all but outright declaring war on another demon god. He deserves at least one win.
>>
>>5261495
Nah he does need them, he is still a man and he is lucky to have survive so far with just one weapon. Guts still improved/expanded his equipment, since there was an use even to the other weapons he had. He could have just use Dragonslayer, but he didn't.
Does this mean Hyde should throw away his sling ? No, his sling is great and he can keep it has the main weapon, but he certainly needs more options and to improve his sling if possible.

A melee option in case someone decides to arrive up close (can happen, and i would prefer if Hyde can defend himself if he cant outrun/outsmart an enemy, or put some obstacles between him and said enemy), something like a falchion or a one hand axe, or two big daggers if we want him as light as possible in combat.
And in case someone tries to break his weapon, another ranged weapon at hand (could be a second sling). A light armor wouldn' hurt to have either, he is just in clothing and something light would allow to keep his mobility and agility. We have access to light armors and can make them lighter through runes as well.
One attack that hits and he might just die there, get an entire limb cut away or suffer a large wound.
The idea of the special ammunition types could be good our seeds are already one. And we can give them time to time to him. While keeping some at hand for us.
>>
>>5261147
>>5261222
GG
>>
And we'll be back in action today, expect the update in the next hour, we'll be staying in Ilos for a few updates before departing, so be sure to voice out what you want to do before leaving

>>5261502
Well, when you put it that way Vlad does look like a bit of a jobber lol, some treats for our guy wouldn't be so bad afterall
>>
>>5264312
Well if you spend all day mixing words around you can really make anything sound bad. Vlad is many things, but I don't think a jobber is one of them imo.

Let's not forget that during all that time he also:
>Easily saved Farnese 1 V 5 against the torturers
>Saved a massive amount of people from dying at the ceremony
>Recovered a massive amount of gold from his family home
>Gained even more od mastery from kalki
And most shockingly-
>Obtained firepussy
>>
>>5261403
>hiding the perimiter of the city with magical plants
An intriguing idea. I was considering if we could make some active defense with our power against demons. For give some attrition in case they want to arrive in Ilos. Or perhaps some tree golems or servants. Sort of like the stone ones the witches use.

>>5264347

Vlad is a trve noble knight, that is the greatest accomplishment. Even in the face of a king of hell, he has not submit to him or accept his lies. Though i will say he did fought a lot, and has endured many days without food during the travel and stay to Albion. Even if weakened by that, he soldiered on.
>>
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After starting a promising new beginning with Farnese and training some more with her and the sage group, you got the news that Barnham would be returning in a few days, feeling that Ilos is safe enough as long as things keep developing by themselves, you decide to test your finished armor set, which feels as light as any other sort of clothing, making it much easier for you to stay protected while still being agile in the field, given how your insides are still hurting from your soul sickness, this is going to come in handy.

"We have also made another thing for you, since you're not going to be travelling alone anymore, it's best to improve your mobility." Kalki motions you to come over and see a newly improved wagon, you could see several protective wards carved on the outside, with the painting disguising it as part of the wood pattern.

When going inside, the furnishing and decorating made it seem like a small, portable house.

"It should be able to hold a few more people, we're putting as much food and supplies in there as possible for when you start travelling. Of course, that would come with the caveat of having to buy a few more horses."

"Knowing Gunpowder, I don't know if he'll appreciate the company. He seems to be the type of horse that would want to run a few miles with this thing on his back. Counts as weight training for him, and he hates walking around doing nothing." You place your head on the pillows inside the cabin, it's like a mix of a travelling vehicle and a noble home of the highest degree. There are handles to place your weapons, a compartment to place your fortune, you can easily sleep in here by just sitting down!

"What's this?" You find an engraved wooden plank that appeared to work as a sign.
"Oh, you see, the workers were getting a bit carried away with the design, and thought about naming the caravan or to even make a name for your group. Thankfully I stopped them in time, placing the names of your comrades when you're travelling into the unknown would just draw unnecessary attention."

"With how Frou-Frou it looks, it's bound to draw attention either way, especially in the poor regions." You wonder, thinking if a sign would really stand out when you and a colourful array of characters will be living in there for who knows how long. Still a name for your party should be common courtesy, right? What would fit best for the name of your vehicle, or perhaps, the name of your group even?

>Vlad's travelling party.
>The Santana Brigade.
>The Pegasus.
>Lunar Eclipse.
>Write-in.

>Place the sign.
>Leave it away.
>>
>>5264369
I think my favorite moments were the fight against Barnham, the 1v1 against Guts where he went serious for a moment and the time he solo'd an entire Kushan troop without so much as getting spotted. Give him some more practice with his full potential and he might stand up to current Guts one day.
Might let him fight Zodd when we get to Sword Of The Berserk.
>>
>>5264391
>The Pegasus.

>Place the sign.
>>
>>5264391
>The Pegasus.
>Place the sign.
Remember what happened to our last caravan. Sure its nice and all, but if it gets wrecked we shouldn't be too attached
>>
>>5264399
+1 We MUST be corny
>>
>>5264391
>The Pegasus.
>Place the sign.

>>5264395

Those are good moments, i liked the fight against Hedwyn (fighting your father that is the entire swamp) and even the start at Dodrey. Him a complete newbie to war arriving like an hero out of a fantasy story and devastating the Tudorians. Right now, Vlad has an infinite potential. The only problem is that for further magical power, we need to absorb that orb likely.
But for creative spells we can go wild, and physical/skills we can always improve with combat or by sparring with someone.
>>
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>>5264399
>>5264464
>>5264490
>>5264493
What better name for your personal caravan than The Pegasus? The one that swore not to be consumed by the Krakens of old? You'll keep that sign, it has a place on your caravan indeed.

With Barnham finally returning, you had a quick meeting with him so you could both plan ahead.

"So, what did you find?"
"Killed a few Kushans, tried eating an army of Daiba and their elephants. It ended well for me, not so much for them." He speaks of it in such a matter-of-fact way that it seems he's just talking about doing his chores. "You will certainly run into some of them until you reach Vritannis,. Even if the wards in your vehicle protect you from the ghouls, the humans enemies are the ones you should fear the most."

"I'll try to pick my fights sparingly, given what I can do at the moment. Anything else you found out there?"
"Yes, I managed to ask a few key questions in a nearby village before it got run down by Kushan soldiers. Word has it that The Black Swordsman was seen heading into the province of Cromwell, ruled by Baron Balzac."

"Never heard of that place, why would Guts be interested in going there?"
"It might be by complete coincidence, but I've heard that Balzac is researching some sort of miraculous plant based cure to cure any and all diseases happening in his land. Don't know the details, it's been a long time since I've visited, but after so many years, he's got to have some results on his tests. He was very acclaimed by his people, so I assume the place is still as safe as always."

"Knowing Guts, no events in his life can be coincidental." You ponder if he's searching for something that might restore Casca's mind. And with Balzac's research being plant-based, you might be able to contribute and finally unite with him in your group.

Alternatively, You could go there to look for a cure for Zhafira's condition. The cure might be expensive and maybe even limited, but perhaps there's enough dosage for both of them so you don't deprive Guts of his lover's safety.

>Do you know what sort of plants he's using?
>What can you tell me about Balzack?
>Anything else worth noting?
>Maybe I'll give him a visit.
>I'd rather stay focused in my journey to Vritannis.
>>
>>5264539
>Do you know what sort of plants he's using?
Maybe we can grab some ingredients and recreate it or maybe create a close variant of the medicine.
>What can you tell me about Balzack?
>Anything else worth noting?
>Maybe I'll give him a visit.
>>
>>5264539
>Maybe I'll give him a visit.
>Say…on a different note, how come you never tried to pick up magical artes yourself, Barnham? Your Od is massive. Is it incompatible with apostles, or does it just not interest you?
>>
>>5264539
>Do you know what sort of plants he's using?
>What can you tell me about Balzack?
>Anything else worth noting?
>Maybe I'll give him a visit.

"Doldrey is near my family estate. Do you think the Tudor Empire will move for take it, now that Midland is in dissaray ? I would expect it from their kind"
>>
>>5264545
"Do you know what sort of plants he's using?"
"No, it was very early in development when I asked him, top secret information, I don't think he would tell me even if he knew about it."
"When was this?"
"A little after I decided to build the gladiator ring, was scouting for places with no name attached to their lands and ran against that lad. I believe he must be quite older now."

"If he was keeping it a secret, how did you know it was plant based?"
"...I may have broken a few of his fingers to press him further."
"..." You stare at Barnham, hoping it'd be best if you omit where you knew Balzac from.
"What? I was in a hurry. I wasn't going to kill him and take his land when I didn't even have my own, and I wanted to see if he had the strength to command as a real man."

"And your thoughts?"
"He took it surprisingly well. Could tell he was in pain, but he wasn't screaming like a wuss like most nobles would. He probably has a grudge about it."
"You sparing random people you meet instead of eating them is surprising, coming from you back then. What made you stop? Was he an apostle?"

"If he was, you can bet his power would be woven into mine. He was just a regular baron, and he doesn't seem to be the type to sacrifice his people."
"I see... Maybe I'll pay him a visit, then. Zhafira could use the medicine."
"I'll mark the place on your map then. You should arrive in under two weeks... Although..."
"Although?"
"There is a mountain in the way that you might need to circle around. Not just any mountain: It's the place The Black Swordsman was last seen, The Hill Of Swords. A snowy hill top covered by blades rooted to into the cliff side, it's hard to miss it."

"Never thought Guts would be the artist type, you think he was the one who made that?"
"Even with his fame as an apostle killer, I don't think he could make so many trips back to the same mountain just for the sake of abstract art. It's either some rich aristocrat's doing, or a highly skilled blacksmith. I tried visiting the place to find out who it was, but the ones hiding wouldn't come out. They must not take kindly to bear monsters, someone more down to earth like you must bring them out of their shell."
>>
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>>5264627
"Right. Everyone must know to stay away from apostles nowadays... Speaking of arts, Barnham, how come you never tried to pick up magical abilities yourself? Your Od is massive. Is it incompatible with apostles, or does it just not interest you?"

"Psh. With all due respect, Vlad. The likes of you having to study the ancient scribes to match a fraction of my own power is exactly why I have no interest in those cheap tricks. The day I pick up a sword instead of using my claws is the day I admit a piece of metal has more power over my enemies than my own bare hands. The same goes for magic, people are free to learn their own path to power as they wish, but I'm not asking for help from spirits who departed from this land so long ago..."

"As stubborn as always..."You mutter under your breath. "Got it. Not much else you could want when your strength scales exponentially with what you eat."
"Exactly, at this point just one punch from these fists would kill most humans, and if it doesn't, I could just spread the damage over their bodies."

"Is that all then?"
"Yes, unless there's something else you want to discuss."
"I do. Doldrey is near my family estate. Do you think the Tudor Empire will move for take it, now that Midland is in disarray? I would expect it from their kind."
"Ganishka's empire is too great for them to interfere. Vindictiveness might increase in a defeated country, but when your two worst enemies are eating each other to the death, the best option is to sit and watch. Focus on yourself, instead of the distractions."

>I'll make a beeline towards the hill of swords.
>Meeting Guts will take priority. He's a valuable warrior to our union.
>I'll see if Bernard lets us take Zhafira to Balzac's land. Even if Benny won't come back, his sister deserves to be happy.
>I would like to take a visit towards my estate before I left for good.
>Vritannis is pretty far, I imagine we will not be seeing each other for a long time. My birth mother's remains are in the sea, and finding her is crucial to my health.
>Write-in.
>>
>>5264637
>I'll make a beeline towards the hill of swords.
>"Honestly, telling me to go AROUND an obstacle instead of THROUGH it...it's like you don't even know me. I'll bet you a gold piece I can reach Balzac's estate in ten days!"
>>
>>5264637
>I'll see if Bernard lets us take Zhafira to Balzac's land. Even if Benny won't come back, his sister deserves to be happy.
>>
>>5264637
>I would like to take a visit towards my estate before I left for good.
>I'll see if Bernard lets us take Zhafira to Balzac's land. Even if Benny won't come back, his sister deserves to be happy.

Give respect to Gallachad and our dad
>>
>>5264637
>>I would like to take a visit towards my estate before I left for good.
>>I'll see if Bernard lets us take Zhafira to Balzac's land. Even if Benny won't come back, his sister deserves to be happy.
>>
I really think we should look out for Sivir and get the Orb, I think maybe rushing for it will be better before we get more cripple and we can't train magic further before Kalki goes to make his spy mission.

But in the other hand, we might still have that faceless demon behind us, and also there's the fact that we know the exact place where Guts is going
>>
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>>5264721
Going for Sivir was my first thought as well, because restoring our power and mending our soul is going to be pretty important...
However, like you said, that demon poses a large problem and we might not get a better chance to catch up to Guts. In addition, the Plant Cure may be just what Vlad needs to repair the damage from his last fight, even if he'll still be missing what Sivir took during Hedwyn's sacrifice.
Ultimately, I don't think that stopping at Balzac's land will be a bad thing. There's some potential boons in it for us, for Zhafira, and maybe for Guts and Casca if we genuinely can help out with the cure.

I do think we should take a more direct route to Balzac's land and stop by the hill of swords, though. It avoids going around a big ass mountain, and possibly gets us a good encounter with the blacksmith there. Given how it's a memorial ground for the band of falcon, it might also have some spirits lingering around it that could prove useful.
>>
>>5264646
>>5264651
>>5264692
>>5264699
"First priority is seeing if Bernard lets us take Zhafira to Balzac's land. Even if Benny won't come back, his sister deserves to be happy."

"Are you sure he'll comply? His son did desert his family..."
"An attempt needs to be made, at the very least. I would like to take a visit towards my estate before I left for good, though. I wanted to see where my father stood, and given since I haven't been there in 3 years, I'm afraid I should I owe a visit to his grave."

"I... See. I don't personally understand why you would go there, but I suppose I'm not exactly one to value family." He mentions, being the one that sacrificed his brother for power.

"I wouldn't expect you to. But hey, once I do get back on track, I'll bet you a gold piece I can reach Balzac's estate in ten days. Especially if I go through the mountain instead of circling it."

"Heh, suit yourself. Since this is something personal to you, I won't exactly be rushing to your side to defend you, given how things are out there, even if your place isn't that far, I believe you should take at least someone you know to protect you."

"After protecting so many people from Femto, I'm the one needing protection now, huh?"
"If it makes you feel any better, you can make the excuse that you're giving a test ride on your caravan."

"Good point..."
Gunpowder is a given, since he can go there and come back before you can say 'rest in piece', but who else should you take for back up in this personal journey. Should it be someone you haven't spent much time with, or the person more fitting to protect you when you can't defend yourself properly?

It won't take that long, so unlike recruiting them to your party, it won't take much to convince them.

>Barnham.
>Farnese.
>Serpico.
>Hyde.
>Kalki.
>No one, you'll go by yourself.
>>
>>5264951
>>Barnham.
>>
>>5264951
>Serpico.
>Hyde.
>>
>>5264951
>Kalki
>Farnese.
Magebros.
My logic here is that we can combine our expertise to avoid threats easier, and work on long-range telepathy with kalki on the trip.
We can also introduce both of them to our ancestral home and give them the rundown on krakens and pegasus. And kalki can long-range telepathy Barnham every day that we’re gone to get a situational update in case anything crops up in Ios while we’re gone.
Also fire pussy.
>>
>>5264965
>>5264983
>>5264988
Gonna need to break the tie here, is a discussion worth having or would it suit best to leave it to the dice?
>>
>>5265044
I'm willing to switch to Barnham, then.
>>
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>>5265056
Alright then, thanks for the switch! Writing...
>>
>>5264965
>>5265056
"How about you and I go together, Barnham? Ilos isn't exactly close to rioting, I'd say they can tolerate a few days without the lords being nearby. Plus, when will I ever have the chance of travelling with you again? I know you want to see some more action."

"It was pretty lively the last time I went there. A rat that corrodes skin and flesh as badly as that Ratface did was something I would not expect, but that aside, the journey should be smooth sailing, even if a bit on the boring end, now that I've cleaned the estate."

"That settles it. Can you fit in the The Pegasus? I'm afraid it's going to be a little too big for you..." You gesture the size of the door to your partner in command, and sure enough, when he tries to fit in the caravan, even in his human form, his height and width are too much to get inside.

"Guess it's not as ready as I thought it was... Even if you got in, the runes still make it clear that the interior an apostle-free zone."
"I don't mind it, your way would take too long to do. Horsepower doesn't compare to how fast I run. The good element about running on flesh and not feeling pain is how you don't get to feel exhaustion either."

"I don't think Gunpowder can run for as long as you do, it wouldn't be fair to make him run against and apost- WHOA!" You get startled by Barnham suddenly lifting you and your horse over the shoulder.

"Don't be ridiculous, like I would need to wait for a horse when I can carry him on my own." He straps you both on his back and stays on all fours, effectively looking like an apostle vehicle.

"Well, this doesn't exactly look practical..."
"The practical type is the one that falters when introduced to wildcards, now off we go!"
"Barnham stay away from Gunpowder!" Your horse hits his hooves on his nemesis' back, with him barely feeling anything but a slight nudge."
"Just roll with it, GP..." your advice falls on deaf ears, as he keeps doing it for the entirety of your run.

(Roll a 1d100 to avoid enemy encounters on your run to The Santana Estate.)
>>
Rolled 32 (1d100)

>>5265092
Barnham is driving us - this should be worst of 3, because he actively seeks conflict.
>>
>>5265092
Oh god, GP must be fucking pissed.
>>
Rolled 48 (1d100)

>>5265092
Oh look, trouble
>>
Rolled 12 (1d100)

>>5265092
>>
Rolled 99 (1d100)

>>5265092
>>
>>5265102
>>5265108
>>5265109
.....fuck.
>>
>>5265112
DOUBLE FUCK
>>
>>5265102
>>5265108
>>5265109
LETS GOOOOO
WE GONNA EAT THESE FUCKERS
>>
>>5265112
>Rolling a 99 after the encounter's already been confirmed by the other rolls.
Oh, causality...
>>
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>>5265121
RRRAAAAAAAAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!
>>
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>>5265102
>>5265108
>>5265109
The travel was a lot rockier than expected - Not because the road was rough, but because you were stepping on Barnham's tendons throughout the entire voyage - Every step Barnham did felt like a leap from your horse, the speed in which he advanced through the fields made you close your eyes as his full sprint created the gust of a whirlwind when the air currents were on a full stop. Combined with the cold of winter and the many times Gunpowder unstrapped himself from Barnham's back as he refused to stay with his abusive original owner, any velocity that you could compliment from your cruise in the Barnham-Mobile was completely lost on the pile of complaints you've had in terms of efficiency and safety.

"What's wrong, Vlad? Can't catch up to my speed? Barnham still gloats as he transforms and lets you rest, while you hold your lunch back from exiting your insides.

"Please tell me we're close..." You feel your pulsating forehead as your body complains about the motion sickness from jumping at so much terrain for what you could barely call subsonic speed.
"Yes, actually." Barnham points to a direction to your left."Give me a few more hours and we can reach the estate before our third day!"

"I'm not exactly in a rush to die here, Barnham... Could you let me take a nap, at least? The sun's starting to set, and I don't think your fur is cushioned for naps."

"Won't let Vlad sleep while he lets Gunpowder STRAPPED TO BARNHAM!" Your horse puffs.

"What he said." You point out your horse being furious at the both of you.
"Oh, I can't really let you do that now..."
"Why? There's barely any sunlight left, and the last time we tried to move overnight, you nearly drifted my head into a tree, you're lucky I can use foresight to dodge in time, because without that I would have-" Barnham's gigantic claws are placed on your mouth as he points to a group of observatory posts from Midland, who were overtaken by Kushan archers, along with the Dakas, mind controlled apostle-tier enemies made to obliterate any human troop.
>>
>>5265192
"So Ganishka did find a way to overproduce these... would explain how he's spread on our territory in under a season..." Barnham stares at the array of bows pointed at both you and him, no doubt several casters and Dakas already looking your way too.

"Even if running safely into the dark while none of them targeted a big target such as myself was an option, I still wouldn't be running. You see, Dakas are a great mix of human and demon energy for my meals... And when it comes to these true delicacies, I believe it is common human etiquette to only serve meals when they are fresh, and never to let them expire!" His bear claws are shown as his mouth salivates. As much as Barnham remains controlled in your presence, even he has his vices.

"Wait! How long are you going to-" As Barnham runs off, Gunpowder drops you off of him and runs in the opposite direction, wanting to dodge the arrows, but letting you do all the work for yourself, since he was stuck pretending to be buddy-buddy with his abuser for half the trip.

The sparkle of light from the fire is all you see as the arrows, bolts and magical spheres are thrown your way, with you having minimal time to react as Barnham runs into the midst of crossfire to have his meal, and Gunpowder doing his own thing God knows where.

This is the worst possible time to play catch!

>Go with Barnham to fight the Kushan.
>Try to catch up to Gunpowder and convince him to run with you.
>Dodge the arrows where you stand.
>Run to lower ground.
>Attempt to form a magical shield.
>Run as fast as you can.
>Plant a tree to hide yourself from the snipers.
>>
>>5265197
>Try to catch up to Gunpowder and convince him to run with you.
>”Gunpowder, come on! We’ll miss the battle! Let’s go kill the Kushan together!”
>>
>>5265197
>>Try to catch up to Gunpowder and convince him to run with you.
>>
>>5265197
>Try to catch up to Gunpowder and convince him to run with you.
>>
>>5265197
>Try to catch up to Gunpowder and convince him to run with you.
>>
>>5265221
+1
finally, the fight comes to us
>>
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>>5265221
>>5265251
>>5265280
>>5265578
>>5265617
Gimme a 1d100! hopefully we won't get a crit after the Bo3 this time, roll!
>>
Rolled 72 (1d100)

>>5265689
Okay then
>>
Rolled 24 (1d100)

>>5265689
>>
Rolled 21 (1d100)

>>5265689
>>
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>>5265701
>>5265703
>>5265733
"Gunpowder, come on! We’ll miss the battle! Let’s go kill the Kushan together- Ugh!" You run after your horse for a while, matching his speed until you feel a poking inside your chest. Thankfully it wasn't an arrow, just the exhaustion of trying to catch up to an animal made for sprinting.

Looking back to where you were, you somewhat overdid your escape, being a lot farther than where the arrows were trying to hit you. The weight isn't really being a problem in the slightest, and aside from the pain from trying to move your body around, you're still as nimble as always.

Running out of breath, stop trying to ride your horse and start telepathically manipulating him.
"I thought you were better than that, seeing actual threats that would prove to be a good battle, yet here you are now, running away from danger because you're paired with someone you don't like!"

'What?' Gunpowder slows down and falls for the bait.
"You heard me. Always chimping out when things don't go your way. If you wanted to run, maybe you should have been a race horse instead of pretending to be a warrior!"

The nerves were effectively struck, and with a swift drift so he could try to headbutt you, Gunpowder rushed in your direction as you leaped over into his saddle with your spear. After playing rodeo with him as he raged in place, you finally pull on his reins to dodge a bolt of fireball you got told to avoid thanks to your premonition.

"Hah, easy work." As the trail of blazes dispersed through the trees, you saw Barnham devouring several Kushan as he climbed an observatory tower in the distance, as well as several others aiming at him.

The dakas appear to be climbing down one tall set of stairs, and wherever they decide to attack after they climb down, you better stay away from them.

>Knock nearby observatory towers with your halberd.
>Plant trees at the bases so they collapse on their own.
>Aim soul arrows to strike the Dakas where it hurts.
>Hide and wait for Barnham to be finished.
>Something else.
>>
Rolled 100 (1d100)

>>5265689
They see me rollin, they hatin'
>>
>>5265811
>>
>>5265810
>Plant trees at the bases so they collapse on their own.
>Aim soul arrows to strike the Dakas where it hurts.
>>
I have the best worst luck ever.
>>
>>5265810
>Mop up the regular soldiers for Barnham, get the heat off him while he goes for the more supernatural enemies.
>>
>>5265820
+1
Have to let gunpowder get some kills, he deserves some.
>>
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>>5265811
Welp, would you look at that...

>Captcha GGH03
>>
>>5265810
>Mop up the regular soldiers for Barnham, get the heat off him while he goes for the more supernatural enemies.
>>
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>>5265820
>>5265822
>>5265830
Guess that calls for another 1d100. Let's see if he can still fight while soul melting, at least it won't be as bad since he's not using magic. Roll!
>>
Rolled 37 (1d100)

>>5265894
WATCH ME CRIT AGAIN!!
>>
Rolled 80 (1d100)

>>5265894
Praise be the strugglers.
>>
Rolled 96 (1d100)

>>5265894
>>
Rolled 2 (1d100)

>>5265894
Just for funsies
>>
>>5265899
>>5265906
>>5265963
Even while being impaired, the strength of an average soldier is nothing to someone who's fought for this long against creatures of the damned, be it Kushan, Tudor or Midland, it would take an exceptional knight to do any damage to you.

A quick rush for the regular looking humans on their troops seems to be the best course of action, with Barnham already chomping on wood to take the towers down by their legs and making them collapse into free fall. As their legs are broken, the Dakas are powerless to escape the stronger apostle.

Meanwhile, you stay side stepping javelins and leaping over spells with Gunpowder. As some soldiers try to keep up with your ride, you tell him to slow down so he can properly unleash his anger.

"Go get'em!" Swaying side to side to knock their horses and elephants away, the enemies are taken aback at how agile your horse is and how they can't see where your horse will go by the movement of your reins. They are too busy lifting your halberd so you can impale the riders, grabbing the middle part of the pole to bash their skills with the dull handle, and letting the other end hold their bodies on your blade, pushing them further and further in until one of the kushan's chest reach your fists. Impaling never gets old!

It does get heavy on your shoulders, though. Your biceps might be able to handle the weight of 5 people on an already heavy weapon, but let's not pretend your movements aren't growing more sluggish, and this isn't even nearly the end of it, with more horses being called to your side, the more Kushans you kill, the more their attention sways from Barnham to you. As they watch you swing your spear with enough force to see their lungs falling out of their broken rib cages, 5 more of them appear to come out of the shadows of nearby vegetation.

Did these fuckers' mothers all have quadruplets or something? Not only did they all look the same, none of them even reacted to the gore as blood splattered from their sides, unfearful, unstoppable. Whatever propaganda Ganishka teaches them, it's very effective on the cattle.

Soon enough, a few Daka appeared to be on their way. While they are told to be as strong as the average apostle, apostles aren't really nothing to write home about, and no doubt the mind control they go through to behave like regular soldiers probably impairs wilder movements and displays of strength demons are known for.

As a caster takes possession of a horse to keep up with you, no notice several Daka are throwing around several barrels around, and letting them fall on top the magician, with all being levitated with telekinesis.

"Prepare to die." He breaks the language barrier by speaking it directly into your mind. As the barrels are ignited with his spits of fire, the wicket trailing into the barrels could only mean one thing.
>>
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>>5265968
Fucking close one.
>>
>>5265978
He's going to throw explosives that could blow up small buildings at your head, and if that doesn't work, a suicide bomb is all but confirmed.

>Make Gunpowder run at full speed.
>Use the nearby trees to shield you from the explosives.
>Aim a soul arrow at the wizard.
>Run up to their bases to maximise collateral damage.
>Attempt a dead stop so the further troops trample the front soldiers.
>>
>>5265993
>Attempt a dead stop so the further troops trample the front soldiers.
Just like in the cartoons boys. Nothin' personal.
>>
>>5265993
>Attempt a dead stop so the further troops trample the front soldiers.
>>
>>5265993
>Spread some seeds and make them grow into a fine shield that will ensnare the enemies before you and make them weather the explosions in your stead.
Your corpses will make fine fertilizer.
>>
>>5265997
>>5266061
>>5266092
I like that idea, let's see if I can combine the two!
A 2d100 this time, cuz if one fails we always have the other
>>
Rolled 3, 23 = 26 (2d100)

>>5266106
>>
Rolled 51, 31 = 82 (2d100)

>>5266106
>>
Rolled 97, 81 = 178 (2d100)

>>5266106
>>
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>>5266122
Damn, the rolls are going balls to the walls crazy today.
>>
>>5266122
Amazing how every time we go in the dice goes on our sideinb4 jinxed it.
Writing!
>>
>>5266164
hahahaha ..... ;/
>>
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>>5266122
>>5265963
>>5265906
>>5265811
The gods are on our side today
>>
>>5265112
COOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD
>>
>>5266122
Blessed rolls this day.
>>
>>5266107
>>5266120
>>5266122
Possessed or not, a horse is a horse, and no horse has more control over terrain than your ride. Now that his armor is weightless, he can change traction as easily as a pair of wheels.

Seeing a plot of mud on the grasslands, you tell Gunpowder to make the most out of his horseshoe and go on a dead stop, breaking from your escape and locking your lance under your weapon with both your hands holding the pole, as the unexpected soldiers were taken aback to your unconventional way of fighting, they tried to tell their horses to stop, but since they were unable to synchronise so perfectly with possessed creatures, they all crashed into each other as the elephants got pushed into each other, trampled the dakas about to attack, and the few humans who still bothered to pursue you were being eaten by their own soldiers.

This is the second time this happens. If taking care of Ganishka's mages are all it takes to disorganise their militia, you can only wonder if he's even ready for someone like Griffith.

Feeling like you were being pushed by the elephants even as the enemies kept running into your weapon with each bump, some still managed to dodge and walk past you. Not all of them were incompetent, gladly. Your itch for adrenaline is something that borders on a lust for danger.

"Since none of you understand my language, I will make it clear for you..." Now knowing that telepathy is able to directly place your thoughts into people no matter the language they speak, you decide to imprint fear directly onto their minds. "Either grow away from me, or become fertiliser for my crops. Though seeing your qualities, you're full of horseshit already..."

Even the Daka seemed to get the message, but your trusty pouch of seeds made it possible so that you could plant them onto the trail of mud Gunpowder just made. Storing them once a day on a small bag made it sure that you never ran out of those when you needed them most.

"GROW!"
Your shout seems silly to the soldiers about to trample you, but the constant spraying of seeds under their feet made them be shielded by the contorting tree trunks and branches, obscuring the path as several willow trees knocked them out of the way, forming several circles around them so they were properly ensnared.

"This place will be your casket!" You let the trees grow as they wish, protecting you from the explosives as you watch them get stuck on the deformed plants.

Before you could call your encounter a victory, you notice the ignited barrels still flying towards your direction, with the caster throwing it far upwards so the fall was exactly timed to explode when it hit your head.
>>
>>5266266
Thankfully, you had a way to extend yourself vertically.

Balancing yourself on the branches, you swirl around the curved trees to reach the barrels before they fall, jumping and reaching them at the peak of their height, you dunk them all back with the flat of your weapon, using your afterimages to calculate the exact time in which they would explode, and using the opportunity to feel the enemy's Od attempting to break through the wood barriers.

On closer inspection, it's impossible for your body to have sent all the explosive barrels down at the same time, not even you were that fast to do this while airborne, but just like the afterimages you were so used to seeing, you saw ones of yourself punching and kicking the objects and sending them out below. That attack where your blade and soul were extending farther than your physical range was a sign that you were meant to evolve, but thanks to your limited energy, you are still unable to control at will.

As the Dakas open up a path to exit the tree's trappings, they are welcomed by ear shattering explosions with even more shattering destructive potential. One ignites the other as chunks of Dakas, Kushan and animals were sent flying before collapsing into a pile of splinters.

Exertion finally starts to rear it's ugly head in as you feel the taste of blood on your mouth as you fall, landing on Gunpowder's back and falling on your knees below him.

Your helmet and armor were still intact, their base is in flames and crumbling as Barnham destroyed the remainder of the main army cell.

None of them saw your face under your helm. To them, you were not human, but a nightmare, and as your soul starts to drain power from something other than itself, you realise that maybe shedding so much blood makes you a little less pure than previously...

To those who know you, you are Vlad Santana. But to the few Kushan you got away, you would be known as the earthly impaler, followed by the bear apostle who together took down their forces in only a single night.

...Well, you mostly took care of one small troop while Barnham took care of the battalion, but no one needs to know that part. Eventually you'll probably get on his level to claim this as your feat too...

Hiding on a tree trunk big enough to fit you and your horse, you wait until Barnham is done terrorising the small ones into retreat, and eating the big ones onto a feast.

The screams don't bother you in the slightest, you've grown used to it enough to take a nap with them...

"There you are." Barnham pokes at the roots while Gunpowder neighs loudly to wake you up. Seeing the light coming back to the trees, you realise it's already the dawn of a new day.

"You were fighting the whole night?"
"I was eating the whole night. The strong ones would not retreat, and neither would I. You can guess how that ended out for them."
>>
>>5266373
After one more day of travel - This time walking alongside him so you wouldn't piss GP off - You had finally reached The Santana Estate. While you could tell some of Barnham's men were still there from the last time they fought Ratface, rebuilding was not exactly their priority, as Kushan could attack them at any time and undo their progress.

The garden was mostly a camp settled with Barnham's banner for what counted as part of your front garden. The beautiful flowers were all tarnished, the pond was dried up, the insides looked dusty and stanched of sewage, and dried blood was still splattered on the walls.

The chapel was pillaged, and though you could finally enter it without having an attack, you're not sure if seeing the altar of the see was something you wished to do at this point. You were depressed beyond belief to know that this is the place where Jacopo and Gallahad lost their lives in. Now that you're here, the thought of seeing their skeletons and armors are something you don't find so interesting...

>Visit your old room.
>Go to the chapel.
>Check the wine cellar.
>Sit at the dining hall.
>Check your father's room.
>Enter the servant's house.
>Look for stone statues.
>>
>>5266395
>>Check your father's room.
Gotta see the bodies, is important to not forget what they did.
>Visit your old room.
Maybe we left something here ? Could be those first books on magic and myths when we had no idea what magic was ? Good times.
>Look for stone statues.
Gotta crush the kraken
>>
>>5266405
+1
>>
>>5266395
>Go through all of it. Everything, even the chapel that triggered your condition so often as a child. This may be the last time you ever get to see these things again, even if some rooms contain terrible sights.
>>
>>5266420
+1 fuck yeah being thorough is badass!!
>>
kek, well if we have time sure a proper visit can be done
>>
>>5266395
If we have enough time then +1 to >>5266420
>>
>>5266420
+1
>>
>>5266420
Oh no, describing scenery. My one weakness!
Writing then, I'll try not to make it too much of a text dump.
>>
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>>5266405
>>5266420
>>5266441
>>5266414
You don't want to see your father's remains. You don't want to see your farther's remains. You don't want to-

Grr. You know he's been dead for all this time, so why does stepping inside your old house hurt so much? There's barely anything left of it... it's all just an ugly reminder of what your old life used to be, and how wanting to go back to the good old days of the past is impossible...

After so many encounters with death, the thing that does you in is staring back at your father's skull as his empty sockets judged you coldly-

That can wait, there is still much to see here... Like the hedge mazes, which you used to climb to hide away from people whenever they knew you were in your room... have completely disappeared.

The malaise only grows as you see the servant's house, closely tied to the destroyed chapel. You can't believe your father reformed the place just so you would stop convulsing every time you got near the crosses... Still bothering to give housing to the people who served them every day, he was the best, wasn't he? A father who doesn't exploit his wife or children to go straight into warfare, that's more than what Hedwyn ever was, though you're following more in your biological father's steps than him...

The dissonance in seeing the beautiful vegetation of the garden being obscured in mud, rocks and rubble is something that really says everything about the modern state of the Santana family... It's gorgeous, it's impressive, it's grandiose, and it's barely there at all. The beautifully ornate glass walls were destroyed, the altar in which Michelle married into is now cracked, the place they wanted to push you towards, into being a religious crusader of the See, much like Farnese's family did with her...

There is nothing here that says that it's yours anymore, whatever accursed voices you heard in the past are inaudible now, it made itself scarce, disappearing into itself.
"...No, there has to be something here that resembles it's previous place, right? At least the sculpture of the garden is intact..." You delude yourself into thinking that something will be in it's place, but Merlina only had to show your house being invaded once for the image of the kraken to be forever burned into your memory...

And sure enough... There he is. Somehow lacking a single scratch, perfectly clean, the marble tentacles of the sea creature stand strong, having crumbled all the other pegasus and sunken it's ugly head into the sea.

Darkness has won, and none of the noble Santanas were left alive...
"All of that... because of a fucking DEAL with CONRAD!" You shout to no one, biting your lip because you would rather let your father see your blood than your tears.

>Punch the kraken.
>Destroy the statue with your weapons.
>Tell Barnham to squash the kraken.
>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
>Leave it alone, it's just a statue.
>>
>>5266589
>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
A growing plant can destroy the stone
>>
>>5266589
>>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
>>
>>5266589
>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
The tentacles of the kraken can hardly combat the ent's roots.
>>
>>5266589
>>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
>>
>>5266589
>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
>>
>>5266589
>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
PLANT
>>
>>5266589
>>Punch the kraken.
>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
>>
>>5266589
>Bring back the scenery, planting a seed where the statue is.
>>
>>5266608
>>5266663
>>5266703
>>5266718
>>5266721
>>5266736
>>5266894
>>5266992
Deciding to plant a seed where the statue was, you attempt to make a tree grow to destroy the kraken, punching it for good measure as the gaudy sculpture was told to move aside by your command.

A hedge maze is formed over your family's territory, being obscured by green as the statue was knocked over and buried by the leaves around it. What was meant to bring back the serene atmosphere of old now gave way into a mossy array of roots. It did not look like tentacles of a kraken, but the spiral pattern of the eldritch creature still remained.

You are too emotionally impaired to control the spurt of your seeds. Now the garden looks like a bigger mess than what it was before you came along. A perfect reflection of how the family was before Sivir cursed them with the gift of parenthood.

Entering the main door and sitting at the dining hall, you remember how hard it was to even take these steps when you were young, seeing everything covered in meat and guts as Hedwyn shouted "VLAAAAD! VLAAAD!" onto your head... Of course, now you know it was merely premonition of what your future held for you, but with the stench of blood, the pillage from the angry mob protesting at the king's negligence of the land, and the overall destruction of the interior, the most you can do is sit at a wooden chair.

You wish you were able to shed any tears at the fallen servants who died here, being able to hear their screams as they were impaled, beheaded and effortlessly killed by the crowds, the fact that you're so emotionally numb only makes the lack of reaction on your face a disservice to the fallen. The grief doesn't want to leave through tears, but to seep into your heart and make it it's home.

...Wasn't this the position Griffith was when attempting to poison you? What was he seeing when looking into your eyes? Treachery? Sadness? Anger from his accusations? Uneasiness? You weren't exactly beaming with confidence back then... You still can't understand how he tried to confide in you after showing a vial of poison in your own house... If he wasn't so paranoid and became a pawn of causality, what would have become of you and him? Could you see yourself in an alternate reality where he rightfully became king, and you became a royal knight as Gallahad retired?

A mistake, especially one you could not control shouldn't define your past, but since this mistake cost you the lives of all the ones you held dear, how could you call this anything but the lowest point of your life?

>Reminisce about the past. Preferably some good memories.
>Carry on to your old bedroom.
>Check your father's room.
>Visit the wine cellar.
>You need a breather, this search is giving you more pain than closure.
>>
>>5267082
>Carry on to your old bedroom.
>>
>>5267082
>Carry on to your old bedroom.
>>
>>5267082
>>Carry on to your old bedroom.
>>
>>5267082
>Carry on to your old bedroom.
>>
>>5267082
>>Carry on to your old bedroom.
>>
>>5267082
>Carry on to your old bedroom.
>>
>>5267082
>Check your father's room.
>>
>>5267094
>>5267197
>>5267233
>>5267250
>>5267564
>>5267567
This is not the time to falter. There are no enemies here, no demons, no imminent threat to destroy you and who you stand for... It's just a waltz through your estate... So why does the air feel so heavy in a place that has no place to challenge your body?

Your legs tremble with each step of the staircase, the chants of "VLADVLADVLADVLAD" are replaced by the voices of Jacopo's and Gallahad's screams as you imagine how they died... Maybe there's a reason why you put the visit on hold for so long...

Taking a stop to see what was left of your bedroom, you see the dusty mattress taking space in your king sized bed. You can't believe you had this much space to lie around in.

Sitting in already makes you cough as you reminisce about the times you would stay locked in, too afraid to go outside at night to grab a glass of water or to even go to the bathroom, you asked for the leading maidservant Giselle to stay outside at night as you kept chewing on your nails at the nearest noise.

Your sleeping schedule was terrible, and not only that, you selfishly made others lose precious hours of shuteye outside your door.
"Giselle... Is it really alright for you to do this for me...?"
"It's my job to do so, Young Master. No questions asked." Giselle's serene voice guided you as she held your hand and lit a candle to guide you downstairs.

You were only 9 years old back then, so the thought of seeing any girl's hands meeting your were something immaculate, even your mother stopped doing that as your advert reactions from random possessions got worse.

"M-Miss Giselle... Why do the other servants always avoid me?
"What? Oh, I can assure you they don't do such things!" She was properly trained in how to deflect your weird questions. Concealing was all you did, and even when you wanted to break free with someone you trusted, the idea was quickly shut down.
"I can tell people don't like me... You don't have to lie..."
"I wouldn't say hate... It's more like there's no point in getting attached when you are so many levels above our social class." Giselle taught you a lesson about how different the two of you wereas you held her pale hand through the stairs.

"I am on friendly terms with your family, yes, but it all comes at the cost of my labour. Masters and servants can't get too friendly, it would unbalance their relations and establish a power dynamic."

"...What's a power dynamic? That sounds stupid... if people wanted to be friends, that's all that it should take for them to be friends-" You attempt to argue with Giselle, but a lightning bolt is heard far away, indicating a storm.

Being the first time you've heard of thunders, your hair went up as you lost your focus on her voice, seeing more visions of red and meat branches gargling out of what appeared to be a zombified Giselle!

"VLAAAD! VLAAAD! VLAAD!"

"Vlad! Stop shouting! You're going to wake up the entire household-"
>>
>>5267969
"What the hell is going on in here?" Your father angrily opened the door to his bedroom, seeing you screaming at the halls way past your curfew.

"I thought I made it clear that Vlad should not be outside his room past 6!"
"But Master Jacopo, The Young Master only wanted a glass of water-"
"You could have given it to him without sending him downstairs! Every time he walks alone at night, he starts screaming to the walls! I have lost count on how many times he's started crying over the drapes being red! What would anyone else think if they saw him doing that?"

As your mind snapped back into place, you saw Giselle lowering her head as she got a long, thorough scolding for making a mistake that was unseen by someone who was so professional, no doubt taking a cut to her salary.

"Understood, Master Jacopo... I apologise for the inconvenience..." She quickly took your hand and went back up to your room without bothering with quenching your thirst.

"I'm sorry, young master. It seems that until your condition has been treated, you will have to stick to your own..."
"It won't get treated... I know I'm stuck like that for life..."
"Don't be so sure, medicine is always improving-" It took on look at your face for her to see your defeated attitude, just running back into bed and shoving your face under your pillow.

You did try to treat it with alternative medicine, drinks and sex, hoping that having more outside experience would help you come into your own and better socialise to compensate for the fact that you couldn't be Giselle's friend since you were richer than her.

But deep down you knew that the girls you met at the brothel mostly wanted your money more than anything to do with you, it was not a real relationship, just the closest thing you had to one at the time, one that would try and replicate with all the women you met at social gatherings, making you more infamous in the noble circles with each passing year...

Aside from the few times you managed to sneak a girl up the window to huddle under the sheets with, no other memories were held here. The girls themselves all blended together, since you were mostly laying with them in the dark, it was hard to keep a face in your memory.

With the prickling of several termites on your hands wanting to saw away at the wooden bed frame, you figured you had enough of these thoughts... It all ends up coming back to fornication when you were a teen... You wonder how it just stopped one day when you started focusing on training your soul...

Enough lollygagging. Time to finally take a look into how your father died...
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>>5268025
...Peacefully?

A ridiculously large pile of bodies was shoved to the side so a proper entrance to the place could be placed. Given the marks of darts, bolts and the sewage puddles around the place, you expected this room to be the one with the most infested pile of bugs and flies, but on the contrary. Jacopo's cadaver was still neatly tucked into the bed, as if he was only sleeping, taking a nap to recuperate his energies. Ready to open his eyes at any moment, if it wasn't for you clearly being able to see the empty shell where his soul was supposed to be in.

Likewise, Gallahad's armor stood slouched over in a chair next to his partner in action. Like he was the one on guard, making sure that before he passed, his old master would reincarnate first, being transformed into Od as both their spirits met the great unknown.

At least with these two, they are indeed, resting in peace.

>Apologise to them.
>Pray for their souls.
>Take Gallahad's armor and weapon.
>Gaze through the window.
>Take your leave, you've paid your respects.
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>>5268061
>>Pray for their souls.
>>Take Gallahad's armor and weapon.
>>
>>5268061
>Apologise to them.
>Pray for their souls.
>Take Gallahad's armor and weapon.
>>
>>5268148
+1
>>
>>5268061
>Apologise to them.
>Pray for their souls.
>Take your leave, you've paid your respects.
Why the fuck would we loot Gallahad's corpse? Vlad's stuff is better, magic, made for him, and someone like Gallahad should be buried wearing their equipment.
Beyond that I'm thinking Vlad's hollow soul is making him vulnerable to being twisted by his actions and environment until we fix it. Need to be careful what we do.
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>>5268370
Support
We have no need for their armor
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>>5268061
>Apologise to them.
>Pray for their souls.
Leave Gallahad his armor. The man deserves his dignity.
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>>5268061
>Apologise to them.
>Pray for their souls.
>>
>>5268370
+1
>>
>>5268370
"Father... Gallahad... I'm sorry." You clasp your hands together and kneel next to their bed. It's a symbolic gesture that you weren't even able to do when you were little, praying in front of the chapel always made you get a weird feeling at the back of your throat... But now that you've mastered the demons and defeated the ghosts of The Silver Eyed, the visions are gone, even if you don't believe in the interpretation of deities The See did... Your father deserves this much. Sorry is all you can say, perhaps the only thing worth saying.

But what the fuck good that does to him now, if he can't hear you? The same thing goes for Gallahad! He would have been so proud to see how much you've grown! You've visited him in your dreams several times, and never once did he frown! The past was never perfect, but the problems you face with now would be much more feasible if you had support from the ones you loved...

God, to think you're starting to raise a group that could die in your lap just the same: Farnese, Hyde, Serpico, Barnham, Kalki... At least one of them will die by the end of this journey... Being a peacemaker while also being a general of war will make you have to deal with casualties despite your good luck with handling large groups of people... But for how long will this last? When will they fall?

"May your soul rest in piece, Father. Once this is all over, this temporary base of operations will be rebuilt in your honor." You thank him one last time for never throwing you out, losing his teeth and toes so they wouldn't reveal your family name or the location of your estate, and most of all, the good conditions for you to live in and learn of the good that still exists in this world, even if it grows smaller by the day.

Coming here was a crucial step in giving you closure. You might not have found any valuable items, any new allies, or a powerful entity to face. This time, the enemy is staring at you from a mirror.

>Return to Ilos, it's time to begin your search for Sivir.
>There is something else you can do in the Santana estate.
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>>5268638
>Return to Ilos, it's time to begin your search for Sivir.
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>>5268638
>There is something else you can do in the Santana estate.
>Dig the graves of your family, and the servants that paid their lives in defense of them.
>Consecrate their graves, and the estate, with wards. So that evil may not sully these grounds ever again - even if your power is on the weaker side right now.
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>>5268713
+1

If possible, cut the vines from the Kraken statue and try again with another seed. Surely being know more calm and focused should help
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>>5268713
+1
>>
>>5268713
+1
>>
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>>5268654
>>5268713
>>5268728
>>5268729
Even if most of their corpses are desecrated, and you don't remember a lot of the servant's names, it is a good measure to make a gravestone for them. The new hedges you made could protect them from being defiled in the future, even if someone comes to invade the place.

Borrowing Barnham's men, you ask them to dig some graves in the furthest hedges, opening them up every now and then to consecrate them, as well as the estate with wards. No creature of the God Hand will feel safe living under this household.

"If you wanted me to leave, all you had to do was say so..." Barnham shrugs, deciding to watch from afar.

"LEAVE!" Gunpowder shouted from the top of his head.
"Wait, Barnham. There's something I wish to ask you. Since you sacrificed your brother to become an apostle... How do you feel about him nowadays?" Since the mood is at it's lowest, you inquire about something familiar to him, attempting to graps a better understanding of the Behelit ritual.
"...The way I rationalise his death is that even if I wasn't forced to sacrifice him, one of us would end up killing each other. Power still controls everything on this realm, and if I hesitated to sacrifice him, he would surely do the same to me instead."

"Can you really affirm that? Wasn't your brotherhood a sacred vow to both of you, despite being conjoined?"
"...For the Behelit to work, you must give away the one you cherished the most, correct?" Barnham admits about loving his brother, albeit indirectly. "Though the thought of it has already gone past me. I don't feel anything when it comes to the dead. They're not fighting, they're not struggling, they just became a part of the scenery."

You ponder on how he can feel that way, and how that relates to Griffith. If Casca and Guts survived the eclipse despite being part of the sacrifice, were the ones that he cherished not the both of them, but the entirety of his group?

"Whatever... Hopefully with this, the nightmares will finally disappear." You observe the soldiers digging their way through the garden and removing the Kraken statue to make space for the graves, with you writing a list of the ones you remembered.

While you were doing that in a more private area, you've felt a weird tingle in your nape, implying the nearby presence of a powerful entity. And sure enough, you were greeted by the presence of someone you would never think to find in a million years.
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The Moonlight Knight himself appears in his horsehide, who galloped valiantly as the most famous lancer in all of Midland graced you with his presence.

"Pardon me, Sir. Would this happen to be the remnants of the Santana Estate?" The knight skips introductions, assuming you knew who he was.

"Y-Yes?" You say, still taken aback by the rare sight of someone you only heard of in bedtime stories. To think you could have been trained by him, if he wasn't busy according to the old King.
"As predicted by the oracle... 'Tis a shame that noble families being wiped out is not an uncommon sight these days. To think Sir Gallahad would fall in a once peaceful home."

"Were you hired by the Santanas?"
"Negative, but I have met the knight that was trained here, on an expedition towards the land of The Occultist Swamp. The title of master is something I don't take lightly, and even then, my contractual works hardly last more than a season. Coming from there not too long ago, I just wonder what happened to Silver Eyed Merlina.

It seems the stoic lancer does not know who 'defeated' Merlina, or even know who you are. Still trying to get accustomed to a living legend staying in your presence, you attempt to strike a conversation:

>The Santana name is not dead yet, I am still here.
>Gallahad has told me about you before. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir Moonlight Knight.
>Oracle? What Oracle?
>Anything in particular you wished to see here?
>Why didn't you stop Merlina, if she was such a menace?
>Write-in.
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>>5268851
>Oracle? What Oracle?
>Anything in particular you wished to see here?
>>
>>5268851
>The Santana name is not dead yet, I am still here.
>Gallahad has told me about you before. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir Moonlight Knight.
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>>5268851
>>The Santana name is not dead yet, I am still here.
>Gallahad has told me about you before. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir Moonlight Knight.
>>
>>5268851
>The Santana name is not dead yet, I am still here.
>Gallahad has told me about you before. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir Moonlight Knight.
>>
>>5268851
>The Santana name is not dead yet, I am still here.
>Gallahad has told me about you before. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir Moonlight Knight.
>>
>>5268851
>The Santana name is not dead yet, I am still here.
>Gallahad has told me about you before. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir Moonlight Knight.
>>
>>5268851
>>Oracle? What Oracle?
>>Anything in particular you wished to see here?
>>
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>>5268900
>>5268909
>>5268931
"The Santana name is not dead yet, I am still here." You take off your helm to greet the knight. "Gallahad has told me about you before. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir Moonlight Knight.The name is Vlad Santana." You smile, finally seeing a human face you could trust.

"Vlad, eh? I believe I have heard of your name in passing during the victory parade at Whyndham's castle. Were you there when we won against Tudor?"

"I only attended the ball, not at the parade. My parents were recovering from being captured, and I wasn't exactly an official member of The Band Of The Falcon. A knight should only be called so when being recruited."

"Naturally." He replies, asking no further questions...

...Does he not know about you being the one who trialled Griffith and kickstart the king's paranoia? Guess not all knights of Midland are informed of what happens with others in the field. Locus himself was always specialised in secret expeditions outside of The See, so neighbouring districts likely don't get much in their letters aside from the bare essentials, considering how long it took for the news of his death to reach you in Albion...

"What brings you here to what remains of my estate, good sir? You've mentioned an oracle of sorts... Was there anything in particular you wished to see here?"

"The Estate was a mere point of reference. I am looking for The Falcon Of Light. The one responsible in ending The Hundred Year War."

"Ah, I imagine you want to find him from bringing ruin to our land?" You ask, hoping that the Midland hero would meet your expectations.

"On the contrary. Despite fighting for the same nation, I never met The White Falcon personally. While he was responsible in ending it, plenty of soldiers are known for being able to maintain the fight on our side. I assume you're familiar with the tale of Grunbeld Arkvist from the Grant nation?"

"Cant say I have... My family has only contributed to the war with funds, and even so, I only fought for the literal last battle. There is much I don't know about the war."

"Similarly to The Falcon, he too was the leader of a Brigade. The Iron Flame Knights was a group that fought the good fight for a good 10 years before The Falcons were ever in their infancy. With Grant being a volcanic duchy set northeast of our mainland, it's territory was often endangered as several nations tried to invade it. But like with The Falcons, the one element that destroyed them was not outside force, but infighting."

"After being betrayed by one of his men and being forced to sacrifice his dearest allies, he was told by the magical oracle at his side to look for The Falcon Of Light. Surely a vision that we are all familiar by now."

"Indeed."
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>>5269010
"I was having my doubts about joining him before, but coming from so far east to join Midland against the Kushan war... He also briefly told me about myself, and that I would find The Falcon first before visiting Sir Gallahad's grave site. Knowing he was not lying in his memories, we went our separate ways. After switching from master to master so many times, it is time I found someone who could serve as a valuable, permanent leader. If The Falcon can unite all the veterans from the war against Tudor, their army will truly be unstoppable."

"And that's why you'll be joining him?"

"Only if the prophecy happens accordingly. The details of Grunbeld's testimony were terrifyingly accurate. No human could have known this far ahead into the future, and the uncanny foresight of her precision only makes the magnetism around that man enamour people from all corners of the world, for the sake of union."

"I am not sure if union is the thing he has in mind..." You make your opinion of Griffith clear.

"...Two years, Vlad. Midland has relished in peace for a grand total of two years before Ganishka came with his expansion plans. Though peace is a generous term, given how most people who survived were barely able to recuperate their losses. If our kingdom decides to fight the invasion, I should assure you that we do not have the resources or the capabilities to fight for a hundred more. Peace should be established as switfly as possible. With no other candidates to the throne, who better to command us than the one we have dreamed of saving us?"

>What do other nations think of the invasion?
>Where did the oracle said Griffith would be?
>You shouldn't be so quick to trust Griffith, prophecies are meant to be subverted.
>Surely a third candidate for the throne will show up eventually. One much better than either Griffith or Ganishka.
>Write-in.
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>>5269057
>Where did the oracle said Griffith would be?
>You shouldn't be so quick to trust Griffith, prophecies are meant to be subverted.
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>>5269057
"The fate of man should lie in the hands of man. Whether there is, or even could be a single king, doesn't matter. So I feel we must agree to disagree Sir Locus."
>Where did the oracle said Griffith would be?
>>