You are Tetsuya Kinzou (鉄也金造), a fledgling cultivator and a resident of Fogtop, part of the empire's western frontier. You're also Commander-of-Ten-Tens Seven of your hive, also known as One-Who-Hops-Well. Or, well, you used to be. Your race, the Apoth, and their civilization have long since gone the ways of many others by now - extinct, at least in spirit. It is only by a great stroke of luck that your vessel, in the shape of a ring, managed to land here before it was destroyed or otherwise incapacitated in the void of space.Currently it is the 10th month, 15th day, 486th year of the Sheng Dynasty's calendar. Still solidly in fall, but an early snow has come. A very early snow... and enough of it to nearly reach your knees. And you plan on walking to work through the middle of it.suptg: https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Ring%20Grandpa
「I'm heading out.」You tighten up your boots as you say this, making sure your pants and leggings are tucked into them, to keep out as much snow as possible. You hear Nui's voice from the table. "Are you sure? It's terrible out there."「It's not a big deal. The walk is 15 minutes, and if they don't need me I can head right back.」You straighten up, having gotten all your clothes in as good a position to defend against the snow as you're going to.「See ya!」You can hear Nui tell you to be careful as you start to carve your way through the almost knee-deep snow.15 minutes stretch into 20, and 20 into 30. Or at least you think they are - you can't make out the sun as well as you'd like, and Percival's the only man you've ever seen who carries around a watch. Eventually, after getting half lost and turning yourself around once, you do arrive at the squad's base. You're rather tired and despite your best efforts have boots full of half-melted snow.The front entrance to the place is left open, snow filling up the space between the wooden gates. You're guessing that it was open for most of the night and that it become too much to close alone by the time someone got to them. A trail in the snow can be seen from someone pushing their way through the snow and across the training field. You follow it towards the lodge, where you can hopefully get some warmth.Thankfully the spot in front of the door is completely clear. You pull the door open and close it just as fast, not wanting to let the cold air in. You're greeted by the warm crackle of a fire, as well as its heat. You immediately take your boots off and move towards the fire, wanting to get warm."Tetsuya. You came too?" You take a moment to respond to the somewhat confused voice of your squad leader, trying to dry your clothes.「We didn't talk about how much snow was enough to take the day off, so I thought I might be needed.」Ryou laughs in response. "Even my old eyes know that this is too much. You're too earnest." He stops talking for a moment, as you continue to peel off layers so that you can dry them."Well, 'preciate it. For now it's just me, you, and Jack though." You glance towards the corner of the lodge and see a young man with long blonde hair sleeping on a cot. One of your coworkers, Jack. Now that you think about it, he had patrol last night. Now that's a rough thought - given all the snow even you would have had to quickly give up on that and head back to the lodge to rest.You let out a pleased sigh as you sidle closer to the fireplace. Warmth. Then you hear something hit the floor behind you. You glance back and see a pair of pants, as well as some long johns."Don't have all the winter gear here yet, but there's some spare clothes. A little big, but you can put them on while yours dry." You thank Ryou and slip into them.
"Hate to ask you to work on a day like this, but since you're here, mind lending a hand with the gate? Want to get it cleared out and closed, so that no one can rob the place while we're resting at home." You tighten your belt to make up for the baggier pants as you straighten yourself up.「I came here in case anything needed doing and my clothes are still drying anyways. Let's get to it.」A few minutes later the two of you wake up Jack, still sleepy after staying up late for 'patrol', and head out to shovel all the snow out of the way of the gate. An arduous task, and one you take several breaks during. But eventually you do get enough snow out of the way, at least to start dragging the gates closed. A relief for the whole trio of you, who were soaked down to the britches and chilled down to the bone by the still-falling snow.You take a final break to warm up inside again and take a look at the lower half of your clothes. They're about as dry as they can be now, thankfully. Ignoring how wet the spares have gotten, they're harder for you to move around in. Going home in them would be more than a little troublesome.You switch into your clothes and swing open the door, ready to leave....and wow, the visibility is horrid. Ignoring the already fallen snow, which has gone from below your knees to above them at this point, the wind is whipping the accumulating flakes through the air and making it hard to actually tell what's out there. It's all... well, snow.The captain glances past your shoulder and lets out a groan. "The wind sure did pick up. I might have to stay here."「Stay here?」He nods, sounding annoyed. "Yup. I could probably work my way through it if I had to, but... well, I don't want to risk it. Plenty of food and firewood here, so I can just stay here until it starts melting."You continue to stare at the snow as you mull over his words. Ryou shoves the door closed as you do. "Come on, don't let the cold air in. If you're gonna make a choice make it with the door closed - staring isn't going to do you any good."Ryou goes to tend to the fire, leaving you to your own devices.>The walk is only SUPPOSED to be 15 minutes to get back home, but you felt like it was twice that on your way here. And given the low visibility you might get lost again. You wouldn't be surprised if it's a grueling walk back at best and a disaster at worst. Nui has plenty of food and firewood, enough to be fine even if this somehow went on for weeks. She's not as strong as you, but, well, she should be fine walking to the back of the house to grab wood - women don't come weak in the frontier. You'll stay here warm and cozy and read until this is all over.>There's more than enough supplies to wait this out at home, but... well, what if Nui couldn't get to the back of the house to get more firewood? What if she fell and broke a leg or something? The weather's looking dicey, but maybe the best idea is to try and head back before it gets worse.>Write-In
>>5587184>The walk is only SUPPOSED to be 15 minutes to get back home, but you felt like it was twice that on your way here. And given the low visibility you might get lost again. You wouldn't be surprised if it's a grueling walk back at best and a disaster at worst. Nui has plenty of food and firewood, enough to be fine even if this somehow went on for weeks. She's not as strong as you, but, well, she should be fine walking to the back of the house to grab wood - women don't come weak in the frontier. You'll stay here warm and cozy and read until this is all over.Mom's smart enough to keep one hand on the side of the house, right?
>>5587184>The walk is only SUPPOSED to be 15 minutes to get back home, but you felt like it was twice that on your way here. And given the low visibility you might get lost again. You wouldn't be surprised if it's a grueling walk back at best and a disaster at worst. Nui has plenty of food and firewood, enough to be fine even if this somehow went on for weeks. She's not as strong as you, but, well, she should be fine walking to the back of the house to grab wood - women don't come weak in the frontier. You'll stay here warm and cozy and read until this is all over.
>>5587184>There's more than enough supplies to wait this out at home, but... well, what if Nui couldn't get to the back of the house to get more firewood? What if she fell and broke a leg or something? The weather's looking dicey, but maybe the best idea is to try and head back before it gets worse.
>There's more than enough supplies to wait this out at home, but... well, what if Nui couldn't get to the back of the house to get more firewood? What if she fell and broke a leg or something? The weather's looking dicey, but maybe the best idea is to try and head back before it gets worse.I'm mostly concerned that she'll do something stupid out of motherly concern and try to find us. We should keep her safe, we promised that when we took over kinzou's soul. Also we have ring camera, should help a bit with the storm right.
>>5587528If Mom is out in that blizzard and we go out looking for her we'll both freeze to death, even if we luck out and find her, which is low odds at best.Odds are we wouldn't even make it to the house before becoming hopelessly lost.
>>5587315 >>5587348 >>5587404 >>5587512 >>5587528You think more likely than not you could struggle home through this, but is it really worth the risk? Even if the chance is just 1 in 10 that you get lost out there, which is probably generous, what would you do if that happened? You're not prepared for the equivalent of mid-winter camping and it's not worth it. You'll stay here for as long as it takes for nature to calm down, whether that be a few hours or a few days.「I'll stay. Got anything to do?」Ryou stands back up, having added some more wood to the fire. "I keep a couple books on the shelf, if you want to try and work through one of them. Besides that there's some cards, and, uh, the three of us."Ryou lets out a grunt as he stretches. "Yup, it'll be quiet. I'd just keep an eye out on the weather and relax. It's an early snow and we have about a week's worth of food, so there's not much to worry about."A few minutes later Ryou finds his way to a pile of covers and bedding in the corner and lies down, having decided to take a nap. Glancing around, you double-check if there's a third sleeping area that you missed. ...There is not. Well, good thing you're not tired - one of you should be awake at any given time to tend to the fire anyways. For the next few hours you stumble your way through one of Ryou's books while making sure that the fire stays well-fed. He's not awake to help you with the words that you haven't seen before, so you live with the uncertainty and try to get them from context.The book is short and handwritten, perhaps by Ryou himself. It starts off with a section about different subspecies of deer, their habits, their vital areas, how to track them, and so on and so forth. Most of them are local to the area, although some only exist elsewhere in the province. A slightly dry read, but readable nonetheless. Shame you can't put any of it in practice right now - it's hard to memorize this sort of thing, at least in one read.In what you think is the early afternoon both Ryou and Jack get up. Ryou starts sorting through the cupboard and muttering about what he should make for dinner, whilst Jack goes outside for a bit. It's only a few minutes before he comes back in, complaining about the cold under his breath.「How's the weather out there?」Jack doesn't look towards you, taking off his outer layer. "Beautiful, but worse than before - the wind picked up."He doesn't speak further, opting instead to head to a nearby desk. You hear the familiar sound of ink against paper a moment later and look up from what you're reading. It looks like he's drawing something. You didn't expect that.
>>5587950At around the same time Ryou comes out of the cupboard, ingredients in hand. Whether the bottle of alcohol you spot him holding is one of them or just a 'snack', you guess you'll find out later.>You lend Ryou a hand with dinner. As the ancient saying goes: "You don't help, you don't eat.">You've seen illustrations before, but now that you think of it you've never seen how they're made. You'll pull up a seat by Jack and see what he's doing.>Back to your book. There's plenty of words left to be read, and if you miss out on knowledge you might not come across it again.>Write-In
>>5587951>You lend Ryou a hand with dinner. As the ancient saying goes: "You don't help, you don't eat."
I wish to bang the gilf in the woods. Damn this child body of ours. That is all.also surprised no one wanted to mention the one armed guy in the woods to her. Or maybe y'all did and I just missed it because reading in the archives is pure pain
Rolled 10 (1d100)Alright, let's see if cooking goes well. This one is for Ryou.Someone roll a 1d100 to see if you help or harm the endeavor.
Rolled 69 (1d100)>>5588075
>>5587952 >>5587957 >>5588008 >>5588084As the ancients have supposedly said: "You don't help, you don't eat." While that doesn't necessarily apply here, you should still lend a hand with the cooking. It's not as if you're doing much else. As for Jack, you suppose he can just be left to his own devices. He appears to be focusing, and too many cooks spoil the broth.Although if both sayings could be held as universal truths, then perhaps the cooks were all0 just afraid of starving if they didn't help.You walk up to Ryou as he unloads his ingredients upon a narrow wooden table to one side of the room, offering your services.「Need any help?」Ryou throws a glance at you. "Could do, could do. I'm gonna make hotpot. If you could lend me a hand then it'll get done faster."Well, that seems simple enough.「Will do. What's first?」Ryou moves to the side, letting you approach one side of the table. "Dice those onions, if you could." You nod, grabbing an already retrieved knife.You make small talk while cutting.「So, what was the militia like before all the recruitment?」"Before a few months ago?" He stops what he's doing for a moment. "Calm, for the most part. Been in the militia for the past 30 years myself. Was 10 men when I joined up, and it only shrunk from there, besides a couple of exceptions. Truth to be told, all I've done was keep watches, lend a hand when needed, hunt, and drink. Over the years we've had dangerous animals wander too near to town, kill some of what little livestock is kept or in the worst case maim or kill a person, but, well... they're rare."Finding something odd about the situation, you drag yourself out of your mindless task and examine what you're actually doing. These onions... there are way too many in front of you. Who would put eight onions in a hotpot? You stop cutting.「...Are you planning to use all these onions?」Ryou turns his attention to you and stops speaking. Then he lightly nods, as if he doesn't understand the gravity of what he has just confirmed. You attempt to broach the issue lightly.「Do we... only have onions? Is there nothing else?」He shakes his head. "No. Just thought we'd use them all. Nothing wrong with onion."There is nothing wrong with onion, no... but you do not want every single spoonful of food to be more than half onion. You do your best to convince Ryou that two onions are enough and that the other veggies and the meat he's preparing will be more than enough. Crisis averted, he starts talking once more."Yup. It's a lucky job to have, although it gets dangerous occasionly. Lost a friend a decade back clearing out a spiritual beast, but nothing like what my grandfather would've dealt with. The militia had its hands full during resettling, what with the spiritual beasts, rebellions, still-armed weapons... my grandpa didn't deal with the worst of it himself, but it was still a mess."
>>5589767Ryou repeats a couple of his grandfather's "war" stories while the two of you finish preparing ingredients. In the end Ryou is the one to watch the pot, stirring, seasoning, and adding ingredients in as needed while it all cooks.It's not too much longer before dinner is ready. Jack tears himself away from his drawing and you set aside your book, the both of you ready to eat. The three of you fill bowls up with the amalgamation of food, eat a spoonful and...Both you and Jack make faces of displeasure while Ryou makes a sound of clear delight.The food is very hot. In the literal sense, yes, but also in the metaphorical sense. The food 'burns' as it goes down, something clearly having been added that you didn't notice. You force a smile as you ask Ryou about it. He just laughs."That's fire root! Toughens the stomach and makes anything taste better! A local specialty." Neither you nor Jack say anything else in response to his clear enthusiasm. You'll just have to learn to deal with it. Surely you'll get used to it eventually, right?Much to your relief, you are partially right. Your mouth does feel like it's on fire but as you eat the feeling nags at you less. You're glad that your taste buds are capable of this feat of adaptation. The three of you quietly chat as you eat, enjoying the warm atmosphere.The three of you return to your own devices for the rest of the night. Ryou drinks a bottle of alcohol that he'd kept in the lodge for 'safe keeping'. He offers a bit to you and Jack. You only take a couple sips, while Jack nurses a glass while drawing. You're not sure if you like the taste. It's not necessarily bad but it's a bit overwhelming. You do appreciate the notes of sweetness, but it's buried under something else.You stop reading and go to bed first, having not slept yet. You take the cot, not having had the opportunity to use a standing bed often. When you wake up Jack is asleep in the other sleeping area, while Ryou sits alone at the table, staring at nothing. He glances at you as you get out of bed, slightly red-faced. Perhaps an hour later he takes it for himself.When Jack wakes up, he returns to drawing. You leave him to it, glancing through what else is on the bookshelf. One is a book of local folklore of which you're unsure of the veracity of, while the other is the clearly fictional tale of Zu Liang, the young master of a family of eastern merchants strikes out to the western frontier to take advantage of the many opportunities there... and to seduce many beautiful woman with large 'tracts of land'.You decide to read the book about folklore.
>>5589768Sometime during the second day, Jack stops drawing. For a while he just stares at the large piece of parchment in front of him, apparently satisfied. Intrigued, you head over to take a look.Despite the limited materials the image is rather striking. Instead of using ink to show the subjects being drawn, it's used to paint a backdrop. 'Strokes' of white stand out in sharp contrast, outlined in a way that gives a sense of speed. A mound of whiteness sits at the bottom of the paper. After a moment, you put together what the image is - a bird forcing its way through a snowstorm, flakes of snow pouring down all the while.You stare at it for a bit. When you take your attention off of it you see Jack staring at you, smiling. "Do you like it?"「Yes. I like the energy.」He nods several times. "Yes, good. I was going for a sense of a 'fighting for freedom' with it. Striving to pass through obstacles and reach the great beyond. All the snow is just too claustrophobic, so I needed to get it out." He pauses for a moment. "Although the village itself is claustrophobic too. Would never have chosen to be born here..." He trails off with a somewhat grim chuckle.In the end, your time in that cabin is about three days long. It takes until the second day for the snow to completely stop, which the three of you take advantage of. The trio of you dig out a path towards the gates and, once again, clear everything in their way. On the third you clear a path a bit further and, satisfied that the weather will remain stable and that the snow has started to melt slightly, the three of you return home. The way back is a bit slow, but without too mcuh trouble.Finally, you arrive at home once again. Nui is fine, and glad to see you. The journey to the wood pile was certainly harder than usual, but nothing that could stop her. Having arrived back at home you take the rest of the week off, waiting for the snow to thin.Once rest day rolls around you venture to the village center. The snow has continued to melt, having become much more manageable by now. You arrive at one of the village's general stores, planning to buy food as well as a few other living necessities.
>>5589769When you arrive at the store it's rather empty. Not too many feel like venturing out in this weather. As you look over the selection of food you frown slightly. Marked up by 20 to 30 percent. Not odd, just annoying. If you knew there was going to be a snow storm you would've stocked up beforehand, so as to not be hit by the price spikes.As you shop, the storekeep calls out to you. "How many members are in your family?" You're confused, but answer without really thinking.「Two.」He nods and then scribbles something down. "You can grab two weeks of food each. Ask me if you have a question about how much that is."「I can grab two weeks?」He nods. "A limit for each household for how much they can buy, across all shops. Village head said so, until the next caravan rolls in." He then looks back down, not paying much attention to you.A limit on the purchase of food? That's less usual. You can't recall having seen that before, actually. But Percival hasn't been the village head for particularly long either. As a merchant, he may just prefer to be cautious in managing supply and demand. You're more than familiar with the concept of hoarding supplies leading to much more trouble than originally existed. Bank runs and the like.>Right, time to get your two weeks per person then. It was just one snow storm. No need to overreact.>A limit is odd... they say there's no smoke without fire. Perhaps you should try to buy more. Add on a bit more than should be right, see if the shopkeep calls you out. If he does, well, perhaps he'd be willing to overlook it if you miscounted your payment in his favor.>A limit is odd... they say there's no smoke without fire. Perhaps you should try to buy more. After this, you should head somewhere else and double-up on your purchases. Even if there is a temporary lapse in supply, a month should get you through any major price spikes.>Write-In
>>5589771>A limit is odd... they say there's no smoke without fire. Perhaps you should try to buy more. Add on a bit more than should be right, see if the shopkeep calls you out. If he does, well, perhaps he'd be willing to overlook it if you miscounted your payment in his favor.
>>5589771>Right, time to get your two weeks per person then. It was just one snow storm. No need to overreact.
>>5589797 >>5589802 >>5589822 >>5590369It's best to assume that's there's more reason for the limit than a 'just in case'. Nothing like this cropped up last year and Percival was, if still settling in, village head then too. Best to future-proof yourself against any price spikes or instability. As for whether that affects others... eh. You don't imagine that an extra weeks food for two people would do much. If it did, then things would already be more than slightly concerning.You load up your pack with food. Your staples are grains, vegetables, and a bit of meat, generally cured. Besides that a few other things like cheese and eggs can find their way into your purchases, depending on availability. The usual. After putting together what should be enough to keep you and your mother fed for the next few weeks you bring it up to the counter and unload it for the man to count.Partway through counting through everything he looks at up you. He seems as if he's going to say something but then he looks back down again and continues counting through the rest. A couple of minutes later he finally addresses you."Think you miscounted. It's two weeks of food per family member for each family member, not two more weeks for the entire family per member. You have enough to last two people a month here." You frown unconsciously. A month? Do you just eat more than normal or is he trying to overcharge you? Well, you don't really have the chance to figure that out now. He's staring at you, waiting for an answer.「You're right. I miscounted.」Besides the slightly less than 4 gold coins that the food costs you pull another one and a half from your coin pouch and place it on the counter. The man nods slightly. "Yup. Although, now that I think about it, I'd say this is more like three weeks. My bad."...That wasn't enough? You let out an internal sigh and add another gold. The man doesn't respond, just standing there. After a moment, you notice that he has three fingers on the counter. You hesitate for a moment before swapping out the five silver on the counter for another gold.After receiving a total bribe of three gold pieces the man pretends that your prior discussion never happened and sells you the "month's worth" of food. You'd still say it's three weeks, but... eh. Not something you can complain about now, you guess. You just hope that you're not being overcautious, or else you're going to be hitting yourself for paying that overpriced bribe later....or, wait, no. You hope that you ARE being overcautious. If you just end up paying too much for food then that's much better than the alternative.You rest a bit on your way back home, the load rather heavy. When you finally arrive you cherish the warmth of the fire, the biting cold still lingering around even after the snowfall.
>>5590843Nui watches as you unload the food into one corner of your home. "You got more than usual." You nod but don't look back, focused on your task.「They had a limit of two weeks of food per person at the store, so I slipped the shopkeep a bit extra and got more. Just in case.」You grumble under your breath for a moment.「Still don't believe this is a month's worth for the both of us though. Three weeks by my reckoning.」"A ration... that hasn't happened in quite some time." You glance back.「You've seen it before?」"Mhm. A couple of times, when I was a girl. Those winters were rather harsh." She doesn't elaborate. "A month's worth though... well, maybe that's true for others. But you're a growing boy, so you need to eat more! It's only natural! It's not like you're fat or anything." Nui rapidly nods to herself as she says this, as if to drive the point home. Meanwhile, uh... you certainly didn't think you were fat, but somehow being reassured about it makes you think you might be. ...No, no, surely that can't be the case. You exercise a lot, and you're a cultivator. You probably just use a lot of energy. You're not fat.The next week you return to work. There's lots of snow shoveling, chores, and general maintenance left to be done after the week taken off, so the first days back are rather busy. Near the end of the week it also comes to your attention that a few extra hands are being pulled to guard duty at the intake. One or two people per squad each day of the week. Your first day on intake duty is the day after that announcement.You report to the intake in the morning and are shown to your watchtower. It's the same one that you stood in during the tradeoff between Prosperity and Fogtop. There you keep an arrow on your bow, nocked but not pulled back and just... stand there. You're supposed to watch for anything suspicious but there's really, uh, absolutely nothing that fits that descriptor. You feel a deep lack in purpose being stationed there.>Next time you need to borrow a book. What's left in the ring isn't one to chat, and your brain is cannibalizing itself just standing up here all day. It's not like anyone will care, even if they somehow manage to notice.>You guess this is your life now, for one day a week. Just... standing here and watching people mill about. By the emperor's grace you'll get into the Verdant Mountain Sect in spring and never have to do this again.After work you head to Huo Mi's. With the snow melting you've been able to resume your usual training at her place. When you arrive you find her mixing something in her workshop and wait a bit for her to finish.
>>5590846>You guess this is your life now, for one day a week. Just... standing here and watching people mill about. By the emperor's grace you'll get into the Verdant Mountain Sect in spring and never have to do this again.
>>5590846>You guess this is your life now, for one day a week. Just... standing here and watching people mill about. By the emperor's grace you'll get into the Verdant Mountain Sect in spring and never have to do this again.Nothing like good old character building, patience is a virtue afterall.
>>5590846>Just standing hereWe can entertain ourselves, but mostly we should be watching who goes in and out and putting names to faces.This is the only real benefit we can get from this.
>>5590846Once she's done the two of you exchange greetings and head outside. "Like the snow kid?" You shrug.「A bit can be fun, but this is too much. Can't say I'm a fan.」"Gotta say I agree. Went through too many winters while traveling to enjoy snow. Saying that it can make things dicey is an understatement. A few winters I just gave up on camping entirely and settled down in a town.""That being said, going through that does mean I have some tips to share. I think there's enough snow... let me show you something." Huo Mi grins for a moment as she steps back to her front door. From there she gets a running start, dashing along a path that she dug out herself before jumping towards an area where the snow is still piled up, completely untouched.Huo Mi lands in the snow and begins falling into it, but only a moment later shoots up again, as if bouncing off. From there she goes forward a few feet, lands again, and then shoots up again before hitting the top of the snow. This repeats several times until she makes her way to her storehouse. From there she heads back, doing the same thing.「What exactly was that?」Huo Mi answers your confusion with a tinge of pride to her tone. "Just a trick I know. Get some momentum, kick off the snow as quickly as you can after the landing, and repeat. Can't keep my boots from getting wet entirely, but it certainly doesn't get up to my knees."As quickly as it came her prideful tone disappears. "Not that it's of too much use though. Too tiring for traveling long distances and not entirely effective at staying out of snow. It's convenient to have in the winter though, especially when there's a storm."You scratch your chin, thinking about the technique.「If you can do it on snow, then can you jump across water too?」Huo Mi chuckles and shakes her head. "Nope. You don't get as much push-back really. Can't use it when the snow isn't deep enough either. Not to say it's not possible though. Someone a bit stronger than me could pull it off, if they practiced."Huo Mi trails off from there. "Anyways, you won't be able to do that, although I guess you're free to try it if you want. The point, besides showing off, is that weather like this means you have to take a different approach. Think before you move and do your best to stop the environment from affecting you."Besides your normal training Huo Mi gives you a few tips about handling the winter weather which you do your best to remember. They may come in handy.The next day, after you get done at work, Char meets you near the village center. You raise a hand to greet him.「Hey Char. What's up?」"Not too much. Was going to train at my house. Dad said you're free to come by, if you want. Said it could help with the disciple selection."You're intrigued.「Training? What're you up to?」"Today? Combat. Dad always wins though.">Combat? You're in. Guess today you're training with Char.>Eh. You'll pass and continue on your way to Huo Mi's.>Write-In
>>5590857>>5590859>>5590862>>5590910>>55909244chan's posting went down last night so I got cutoff mid-update >>5591105
>>5591105>Combat? You're in. Guess today you're training with Char.
>>5591105>Combat? You're in. Guess today you're training with Char.Good to have a diverse education
>>5591105>Combat? you're inWe can handle a bow. Lets get some more direct experience.
>>5591105>Combat?just to be sure
>>5591107 >>5591128 >>5591133 >>5591176 >>5591291 >>5590857 >>5590924Combat, huh? You don't get too much 'practical' experience - could be worth dropping by.「I'll head over then. Anything I should know ahead of time?」"Know ahead of time?" Char tilts his head a bit, contemplating. "Can't think of anything too important. Just be ready to hurt tomorrow." Well, that's nothing that you didn't expect. A little bit of pain isn't much of a worry. Without further ado the two of you head to Char's home, the garden looking worse for wear under the recent wintry onslaught.The two of you step through the entryway, past the side room, and to the other side of the central room from before. Behind that sliding door is a long, wide room with padded mats covering the ground. A couple of weapons hang on the walls, along with a piece of calligraphy: 日進月歩You're not sure how that's meant to be pronounced. You mutter under your breath.「What exactly is that supposed to mean?」A deep voice responds."It means steady progress. Advancing a bit day by day, month by month, through continued efforts." You turn your attention to the source of the voice - Mu Jing, Char's father. He's dressed in a loose robe, likely made for exercise. A sigh slips out as he continues speaking. "A motto of my father's. That's his writing, actually."Unsure of how to reply, you simply comment that the calligraphy is nice. Char's father doesn't respond for a few seconds. "Alright, well, I'm sure you know what you're here for." You nod slightly as he continues to speak. "Thought it would be beneficial if you could get a bit of fighting experience beforehand, just in case they test combat ability in the disciple selection."「Is that common?」Mu Jing chuckles awkwardly. "I'm not sure myself. Accounts seem to vary, and I've never underwent such a test. Better to be overprepared than underprepared though, right? That being said..."He spreads his arms out. "Come at me when and how you prefer. Alone, together, armed, not. Your preference. Although if you go for armed, I do ask that you stick to one of the 'staffs' we have on hand. A sharp edge is a bit much."You turn to look where Mu Jing is pointing and see another sliding door. You walk over and pull it back, revealing several long pieces of wood. Most are about the same as your spear, simply minus the head.「What do you want to do?」You turn to Char. He thinks over it for a second. "I'm fine with whatever, really."It's up to you then.>Fight Mu Jing together.>Fight Mu Jing alone.>Fight Mu jing armed with pieces of wood.>Fight Mu Jing with your bare hands.
>>5591984>Fight Mu Jing alone.> Fight Mu Jing armed with pieces of wood.
>>5591984>Alone>With a piece of woodLike our spear.
>>5591984>Fight Mu Jing together.>Fight Mu jing armed with pieces of wood.
>>5592047 >>5592254 >>5592256 >>5592272Looks like it's a 1v1 utilizing the mighty dao of the stick then.Won't be able to update until tonight, but in the meantime can I get 3 1d100s to see how things go for you today? The more successes over some DCs the better.
Rolled 71 (1d100)>>5592530
Rolled 10 (1d100)>>5592530Come on, give us some good rolls almight dao
Rolled 31 (1d100)>>5592530
Meant to get an update up last night but I had to work on some research, my bad.I'll make sure to get one up today but if I do disappear for a day or two at some point, uh, you know what I'm doing.
>>5593751Good luck Wuxia
>>5592047 >>5592254 >>5592256 >>5592272 >>5592542「I'm sure he could take it, but let's try fighting alone for now. As for me...」You walk over towards the closet and grab one of the staves, seeing how it feels in the hand. After repeating this a few times you find one that feels right - about the same length as your spear and a bit dense, to make up for the missing weight of the head."You can go first." Char steps back, interested in how you'll perform. You accept, slowly advancing towards Mu Jing with the piece of wood in hand. You circle around a bit, looking for any clear openings, but Mu Jing just stares at you, a slight smile on his face. Eventually you decide that the best choice is to attack and charge in.Your weapon shoots out with a thrust, aiming for his side. Mu Jing takes a step back and to one side, making your attack harmlessly pass between his body and right arm. Before you can draw your weapon back he pulls his arm tight to his body, trapping the piece of wood. Only a moment later he jerks it backwards, wrenching it out of your hand and causing you to stumble forwards.In the time you take trying to stop yourself from falling he closes the gap between the two of you. By the time you can react he already has an open palm placed in front of your stomach and a spear-hand pointed towards your throat. It's your loss.After a couple of seconds Mu Jing steps back and tosses you your staff back. "Again."You take a moment to refocus yourself and then thrust forward. This time you aim for his center, around his bellybutton, to make it harder to dodge. Unfortunately he simply steps back, and once again pulls back on the piece of wood with a force you can't resist. A similar situation repeats.After a few tries you do, eventually, get used to letting go of the spear when it seems like he'll grab it. In fact, one time you let go of it when he gives you a chance to pull it back. Rather embarrassing, but a show of how used you're getting to his counter. When you've been disarmed around a dozen times Mu Jing calls things to a break. You take a seat and catch your breath."Have you noticed anything?" You nod.「You're using my weapon against me. It's difficult to suddenly going from pushing it to pulling it back, so if you go with the direction it's already moving in you can disarm me or throw me off balance.」Mu Jing smiles. "Indeed. To speak more universally, that which is already moving remains in motion until something stops it. Thus, your rod will go forward until you stop it or it reaches the end of its thrust.""I could stop your weapon myself, but that complicates things. It gives you the chance to pull your weapon back and launch another strike. No, in general I find it better to go with the motion. Speed up what is already present and use it against the opponent. Thus, disrupting your attacks by dodging and adding to the thrust."
>>5594373A moment passes before Mu Jing suddenly laughs. "But, of course, this only works if you're fast enough to react to the attack properly. If not, then it's preferable to dodge or block it and hope for the best."Mu Jing tells you to rest for a bit and then spars with Char. He, like you, loses over and over. Unlike you his form of defeat is a bit different. He goes in unarmed and gets dispatched in a variety of ways. Getting tripped, grappled, punched in the stomach, and so on and so forth. A bit more varied than your experience.For the evening, you and Char switch off, sparring for around 10 minutes at a time against Mu Jing. Things get more varied after the first round of defeats. Not in the outcome of the spars - you always lose - but in how Mu Jing responds. Sometimes he'll simply dodge or parry your attacks and let you continue on, sometimes he'll pull your weapon out of your hands, and other times he'll rush in and take you down while you're in the middle of an attack, unable to respond. A few times he even goes completely against what he talked about before, shoving your staff back into your stomach instead of pulling it towards him, causing you to reel over for a bit.The experience is useful if, as Char warned, also painful. By the time you're done you're both exhausted and aching all over. Even Mu Jing is tired at that point, having dealt with the two of you for hours.「Thanks for the help Mr. Mu. It was... educational.」He waves your thanks off. "No problem. Remember to pay careful attention to your weapon in combat. It's like having an additional limb. If you master it it's of great use, but it can just as easily be used as a point of attack for the enemy. Take care not to have it used against you, at least."With that you're sent off. It's already a bit dark and you use one of the ring's cameras to help you navigate back, appreciating the night-vision.The next week is rather calm. The snow stays away, some caravans stop by the intake to trade for the second crop of the year, and nothing of note happens at work. The food purchasing limit is still in place but it has loosened a bit with the arrival of those caravans. Everything seems to be going swimmingly.That is, until the week after next at least. It's your most boring day of the week - your time at the intake. You've been in a damn watchtower all morning, it's cold, and your mind feels like it's cannibalizing itself to get away from the boredom. The best part of your day has been watching Du scrub manure off of one of the intake's walls. (The vandal still stops by, occasionally)
>>5594378An hour or so before lunch snow starts falling. By the time lunch is over it's falling hard. You sigh as you watch it pile up from your, admittedly, rather nice view. This might end up as bad as the storm a few weeks ago and it's not even winter proper yet.As you watch the snow pile up throughout the workday your "might" turns into a "probably". The weather is downright terrible by the time you're due to leave, if still perfectly navigable.Just as you're about to leave for the day Percival appears and gathers the employees, yourself among them. His announcement is brief."It's looking like another storm and we still have caravans here that haven't been able to leave. People will be needed to load and unload goods, manage the books, guard the place, and all things besides. Anyone willing to stay if we get snowed in temporarily will be paid extra. First come first serve - not everyone is needed."Extra pay? Tempting, but... well, you'd much rather be stuck at home than stuck here if a snowstorm rolls in. >You'll pass. It's not worth the trouble.>You'll volunteer. It's boring, but pay is pay.>Write-In
>>5594379>You'll volunteer. It's boring, but pay is pay.
>>5594421 >>5594444 >>5594472 >>5594635Well, money is money. You guess you're willing to stay here, shovel snow, and stare at nothing for as long as is needed if another storm rolls through. You step forward and raise your hand, joining the others who have already volunteered for overtime.A few moments after you raise your hand Percival points at you and says to walk over to the side. You join the other employees who have already been selected. Over the next couple of minutes Percival picks out more volunteers from the crowd, at the end calling for a final show of hands and pulling a few more people. Those staying are probably around a third of the workers, yourself included. Maybe a bit less.In exchange for your extra pay you're immediately put to work. One group of you is sent to grab food and prepare dinner, while another is sent to hurriedly unload the caravans still left in the intake. What remains of the first squad of the militia makes sure the place is secure, while Brynn goes to keep the books. You and quite a few other fellows are sent to retrieve several waterproof tents from storage, so that their tarpaulins can be hung up and used to block snowfall between major buildings.By the time your group finishes hanging the tents dinner is almost ready. Everyone finishes up their various duties, heading towards an unoccupied section of a warehouse in order to eat. Barrels, boxes, and anything else present serve as seats and tables, although there are a few pieces of furniture being used for their intended purposes among the makeshift mess hall. For dinner you receive a bowl of stew with a bit of meat, a hunk of wastebread, and a choice of diluted ale or water for your drink. You opt for water yourself. You didn't hate alcohol when you had it before, but it tasted... weird, even ignoring the fact that your tolerance is probably low. You'll pass, for now at least.Everyone eats and makes merry, chatting and enjoying the company as if it's a tavern. You sit next to the only other member of your squad who's here, one of your vice-captains - Rei Jou. The two of you don't talk much, opting to focus on eating. Not because the two of you are on bad terms or because she's unfriendly, but just because she's quiet. Yes, that's the best word to use, quiet. Even with those the young woman is on good terms with, she doesn't tend to talk often, or for long. It's not necessarily a bad trait all things considered. Just easily noticeable.Among the diners are a few distinct groups. The first squad generally sticks to themselves, as do a few other groups of workers. One of the caravans, from the provincial capital you think, doesn't mingle much with those present, preferring to chat among themselves. The other has no such scruples, getting a bit rowdy. Kain's caravan, you think.
>>5595732Once dinner is over duties for the night are assigned. Quite a few are lucky enough to get to sleep through to the morning, but you are not one of them. You'll wake up a couple hours before dawn and take on watch duty for a shift. Not fun, but at least you get to rest again afterwards.You and the vice captain sleep in the first squad's building. Unlike your squad's lodge this one has enough rest areas for the entire squad to stay overnight if needed, and with part of the squad either awake and on duty or at home, there's plenty of room. You empty your thoughts and drift to sleep, your next moment of consciousness being when you're lightly shaken awake by the man you're meant to replace.The snow is still falling hard, and it's starting to pile up like the last storm. You have to force your way through quite a lot before you get into your tower. From there you watch the snow pile up over the dark, silent forest. Behind you groups of men silently clear it off the tops of the tarpaulins you helped set up, making sure the weight of the snow doesn't knock them down. Others shovel paths through it, and you quietly appreciate the sight of them lengthening from above.Once you're done with your shift you sleep until lunch, which is the leftovers from the previous night. From there you're given some menial tasks to do throughout the day, mainly helping deal with the snow. You try to chat with the members of the 1st Squad during you free time and while they don't turn you down completely, you can't help but feel an odd sense of distance when you speak with them. Like they think they're better than you, maybe? Or perhaps they're just a tight-knit group and take a bit to warm up to others. All in all it makes conversations a bit awkward, causing you to not have many. Looks like your stay here could be particularly boring.Thankfully you don't have a night shift two days in a row and only have to return to lookout duty the afternoon of the next day. By that time the snowfall has slowed down to almost a halt, but with how much that has accumulated... well, where it's not shoveled it makes the last storm look almost minor - the snow is almost up to your waist.For what feels like the fifth time, you are counting the number of logs in the intake's outer wall. When you're at 50, a voice interrupts your concentration."Hey!" You ignore it at first, thinking the yell is directed at someone else. "Hey, you!" When it repeats, you deem it important enough to take a look. A moment later you find what you think is the source. A tall, tanned man with light blonde hair. Behind him stands a shorter, rather ordinary looking man, who just stares at the other man. It takes you a moment to place a name to the face. That's Kain and his assistant.What do they want with you? Confused, you yell back. 「Me?」
>>5595736Impatience can be heard in Kain's voice. "Wh' the fuck else would I be talkin' to? You're not doing anything, come down here. We need another player."You... uh... what? Before anything you wonder as to if this is a trap of some sort, but then immediately dismiss the thought. Kain has some connection with Kanekatsu from what you know, but the intake has no communication with the rest of the village and it's rather unlikely that Kanekatsu tells every single one of his business partners that he dislikes you ahead of time.No, it's much more likely that Kain is doing for his own reasons. As for what 'this' is... well, you're probably actually being invited to a game of some sort. Or perhaps more accurately, enlisted into said game because you don't look busy.>Yell back that you're busy and on watch duty. You're working.>Make your way down. You're not annoying someone on Percival or Kanekatsu's level so that you can guard a snowed in forest and Kain doesn't seem terribly patient or understanding.>Try to point out someone else who might be happy to join them. Perhaps any annoyance will be dulled if they get someone else to be a player. [Specify someone if you want, if not you'll just pick someone who's within line of sight.]>Write-In
>>5595738Now while I want to be a dutiful worker, we have a promise to our friend to find out about this guys dealings.>Sure, why not! What're we playing?
>>5595773SupportI had a feeling that we would have a chance to see the caravan we couldn't investigate before
Rolled 18 (1d100)Well, vote seems pretty clear.Don't mind me, just rolling for Kain's mood.
>>5595901Kain is pissed
>>5595773 >>5595794 >>5595817 >>5595840Worries about whether accepting or rejecting is less risky aside, you really should accept. You've wanted to look into the dealings with Kain for a bit but haven't had a chance. Since life has served up an opportunity to do so on a silver platter it'd be silly not take it.「Sure.」You start making your way down as you yell back.「What are we playing?」You don't get a reply until you reach the ground, where Kain and who you assume is his assistant are waiting."Mahjong. You know how to play, right?" You reply with a smile still stuck to your face.「Sorry, but no. I can learn though.」Kain loudly groans and starts walking away. The man behind him gestures for you to follow after them."These really are the sticks. Could've gotten snowed in anywhere and it had to be here. Not even anything decent to drink." His assistant chimes in. "It could be worse sir. At least we're not stranded along the road." Kain lets out an annoyed grunt. "Shit is still shit Leon, even if it's not the biggest pile around."The assistant doesn't seem to be willing to say anything else after that, and assuming that he knows best, neither do you. Kain only speaks again after a minute, glancing back to look at you as he does. "Looks like Mahjong is a loss, so know how to play anything else?"You do your best to quickly thing of a response.「I'm decent at Ousatsu-」Kain looks like he's about to say something again, so you speed up what you're saying.「-and cards.」He pauses."You ever play poker?" You nod. He seems relieved. "Poker it is then. We can figure out the table specifics later."Eventually you're lead towards one corner of the intake, where the second loading area was recently added. Kain's caravan appears to be staying here and you can see quite a few people shoveling out routes to move through the snow or guarding wagons. A lot are guarding wagons, actually - several times more guards than a normal caravan.Past the procession of wagons is a large canvas tent. Kain enters and you follow. The inside is rather impressive. A couple of constructions similar to hearths sit inside, rather hastily made but providing warmth nonetheless. A large bed that can fit several people sits to one side of the room, with several books on top of it. A desk has been dragged inside and set up, a few documents upon it that you can't make out from here.In the center of the room is a large table with around half a dozen chairs or sets of boxes being used as chairs. A well-dressed man with tightly trimmed black hair sits at one of them. He's probably in his 30s, if you had to guess."We got a fourth!" Kain's exclamation interrupts your examination of the tent. Without prompting from the man at the table, he continues. "They really work them hard around here. This kid was the only one I could find free and they still had him standing around watching fuck all."
>>5597668You refrain from mentioning that there were others on break inside some of the buildings and let Kain rant. "Can't imagine a more boring place to be stuck. Everyone's too busy to have some fun and your caravan doesn't even want to give me some face and chat. Stuck-up bunch of..." He trails off. "Well, whatever. Let's get ready. Kid doesn't know mahjong, so we're playing poker."The assistant heads off to take care of something while you and Kain take seats at the table. You take a seat between Kain and the other man, who are at opposite ends of the table. An awkward silence settles as the three of you sit there and wait.After some several several awkward seconds the man who was already seated speaks up. "Perhaps you can enlist a couple of your men to play." Kain responds with a slight frown. "No. They're being paid and there's work that needs to be done so they're doing it. That's why I looked for someone who wasn't busy."Somehow the silence is more awkward than before. Fortunately it doesn't last too long as Kain's assistant returns with a pack of cards. Kain glances at it before sliding it across the table to the other man."A sealed pack of cards. Feel free to check the seal. After that both of you can check to see that they're not marked."The man checks the packaging for a bit before passing it to you. You glance over it, but even if it was messed with you likely wouldn't be able to tell. There's no gaps in the paper container the cards are in and the wax used to seal it shut appears to be in good shape, so you'll just assume it's fine. Next, you open the packaging up to check for marks on the cards.Marks... you don't think there's anything that would be visible enough across a table to count as that. One of the 3s has a bent corner, but you'll just have to live with it. You pass the deck of cards over to the other man, who oks it. Kain who, somewhat to your surprise, has been waiting patiently, retrieves the cards and starts preparing for the game to begin."Minimum bet is 1 silver each hand. Unless you're out of money then you need to place the minimum bet during each hand. Each player should put five gold in." Kain gestures to his assistant Leon, who places fifty silver pieces in front of the each of them, split into stacks of 10. The man across from Kain begins awkwardly looking through his coinpurse, while you just sit there. You... do not have anywhere near that on you.Kain speaks up before you can figure out how to best address the problem. "If you need change, we can make it. As for you kid, I assume you don't have the cash?" You nod. Kain turns to his assistant. "Count out 50 for him." Then Kain glances at you. "Solved."
>>5597677Feeling great hesitation at the entire situation, you quickly speak up.「The money. Is it a loan, or...」A scowl crosses Kain's face as he replies, as if he's been personally offended by the question. "What am I, a loan shark? Of course not. I invited you, you don't have the in and can't get it, I pay. The money is yours with no strings attached until you lose it, I just want to play."The other man at the table looks at you a bit jealously before continuing to count out his own funds. Once that's ready, you're ready to play. Kain deals first, his attitude still slightly terse.Kane becomes a bit less of a landmine to talk to after a few hands, but still seems a bit annoyed by everything. He probably wouldn't appreciate an extended conversation about who he is, what he's doing, and his whole deal right now. You should keep any questions brief and targeted, so as to not annoy him.>「So, Kain, are you from the south? 」Maybe he'll be more willing to talk about himself than anything else.>「You guys come through a lot. What business are you in? Anything interesting?」A natural enough question to ask, although if it's anything odd then you imagine you'll just get a cover story if anything.>「Where are you guys heading?」Knowing their end location might give some hints as to what they're doing.>「Where's your caravan stationed? The county seat? Prefectural capital?」If you figure out where the caravan is from then you'll have a way to look into them later, if you really want to. That besides, their 'home base', so to say, could provide hints as to who they might be involved with.>Don't ask anything at all. Just try your best to kiss ass a bit and get him into a good mood. If you can get him to feel even a scrap of good will for you it might benefit you in the future.>Write-InAs for the poker game itself, you should choose an approach.>Play as if this isn't real money. Easy come easy go and all that. You don't imagine that you playing in the most boring manner possible and trying to make scraps off of Kain's good will would go over well with him.>Place the minimum bet wherever possible. Play conservatively. You would like to have some of this money leftover when everything is said and done.>Write-In
>>5597680>Don't ask anything at all. Just try your best to kiss ass a bit and get him into a good mood. If you can get him to feel even a scrap of good will for you it might benefit you in the future.>Play as if this isn't real money. Easy come easy go and all that. You don't imagine that you playing in the most boring manner possible and trying to make scraps off of Kain's good will would go over well with him.
>>5597680Seriously guys? A prime opportunity for information.>Ask where he's headed>Play like it isnt real money
>>5597694 >>5598205 >>5598317 >>5598382You really want to get some information here - you really do. But... uh, perhaps now isn't the best time. Kain is making everyone here sit on tenterhooks, his assistant included, and you don't want to risk the misfortune of earning his ire in one way or another. Your safety and comfort is more valuable than a bit of information. And, if through some stroke of luck, Kain remembers this and happens to favor you at some point for some reason, then that's all the better.Unsure of whether Kain would just get more annoyed by blatant flattery you opt for a more subtle route, spending the next several hours with a smile on your face, slipping in minor compliments wherever possible. Kain seems to take nicely to that at least, and by the time you're a good ways into the game things seem more mellow. Not quite pleasant, but, well, better. Just as you're considering whether to switch to probing him though, the game is about to draw to an end. You have only a few silver coins left due to your lack of experience, whist Kain's assistant and the other man are both sitting several gold down. Before the last hand can come, however, what looks like a teenager in a guard's outfit rushes into the tent. He speaks in a hurry, his voice cracking. "Lord Kain, sir! There's been a problem with the 8th wagon!" Kain immediately swivels around to face the young man, almost overturning the table as he does so. You can see the young guard's legs trembling as he struggles to stare Kain in the face.Before the cowed guard can make out a response, Kain yells at him. "Out with it!" The lad stutters out a response. "W-w-we-well, uh-"The guard receives a swift slap to the mouth, Kain's hand moving at a speed you can't properly make out. By the time the guard is able to understand what's happened he's been knocked to the ground, blood leaking from his mouth. "Imbecile! Don't say it in front of the guests. Whisper." As he says that Kain crouches down, putting his ear up to the guard's mouth. He stays like that for some time, listening to something. You and the other guest just sit there, stock still, as Leon throws awkward looks towards you.After what feels like an eternity but was likely only 20 seconds, Kain stands up. He lends the guard a hand, lifting him up rather forcefully. Then Kain sits down and glances at his cards again, as if he's not concerned at all with what just happened. He makes his bet before speaking to the guard again."Confine him for now so that he can't do anything else and we'll mete out a punishment when we're back at the county seat. He's been with us for a long time so we don't want to go too far." Kain pauses for a second, checking how the hand is advancing. "And, uh, get yourself patched up. Don't think I ruined anything, but remind someone and we can get your mouth checked by a professional when we're back."
>>5599625The guard scurries out of the tent while trying the best to hide his relief at being let go. Kane continues on with the hand as if nothing happened before eventually letting out a happy sigh."Man, I really needed that. Sometimes you just need to get some pent up anger out, y'know?" A bright smile accompanies the statement. You brain lags behind for a few moments before you manage to choke out a reply.「...I can get it. Hunting can be much the same.」Kain lets out a melancholy sigh as he replies, but still seems markedly happy. "Man, I haven't been hunting in ages. If the snow wasn't so deep I'd want to give it a go."The game only continues on for couple hands longer, Leon drawing it to a close as he cajoles his boss into dealing with whatever issue cropped up before in more detail. In the last hand you let go of your last few coins, going all in. You lose it all, but Kain notes that's how poker should be played: with 'guts'. He leaves only moments later. While you're not sure if you've left any sort of good impression on him at the very least you haven't annoyed him, and that might be the most important thing here.Before you and the other player leave Leon apologizes for the atmosphere for the both of you, mentioning that while Kain is very good to talk with when he is in a good mood that his moods are rather... unpredictable. In the end he slips you both five silver as an apology, which is a nice bonus. As you make your way back to your post you can't help but wonder if Leon has a fund specifically earmarked for this sort of thing.Once you get back to your tower there's almost no time left in your shift. In fact, there's so little time left that you deem it a good idea to head to the 'barracks' and get your replacement rather than heading up the tower,Unfortunately, a nuisance of an entirely new sort is awaiting for you. A young man in his early 20s, part of the Fogtop's militia's first squad, Vice-Captain Ki Tei. He locks his gaze upon you as you enter the room, frowning."Tetsuya!" He speaks as loudly as he can without yelling, seemingly trying his best to be intimidating whilst not waking the two members of the miltia currently sleeping. It doesn't work, almost coming off as comedic instead. You ignore that and keep a straight face as you approach him.「Good evening Vice-Captain Ki. What is it sir?」He stares down at you unhappily. "What is it? Shouldn't you know better than me?" He's really annoyed, huh. Well, you can guess the reason at least.「Are you referring to me being absent from my post?」He silently acknowledges your statement.
>>5599628You sort out your words in your head for a moment before replying in a neutral tone.「While in the latter half of my shift Kain and his assistant, Leon, approached my position. Kain demanded that I entertain him and seemed rather irate. Given his tone, it seemed dangerous to refuse. I've just returned now. I apologize for leaving my post and will ensure it doesn't happen again.」You silently curse your job in your head as you say all of this. If you were walking around the perimeter of the intake then there's almost no chance that anyone would notice you leaving your shift halfway through, assuming they even cared. Unfortunately, your watchtower is rather stationary."If words mattered then we wouldn't have actions." As you mull over whether that statement has any significance at all or not, Vice-Captain Ki continues speaking, a harsh tone to his voice. "You are to desert your post under no circumstance, unless so outlined by the rules of the Fogtop militia or the order of a superior. As I am currently the highest authority in the militia present I will have to disciple you and report the issue directly to sir village head, Percival."Before you can even think of a response a soft voice interjects. "Isn't that going overboard, Ki?" He turns around to face Rei Jou, one of your squad's vice-captains. She sends a light smile back."Overboard? It's simply following regulation. Would you rather everyone leave their shifts as they please, and everything fall into chaos?" Rei Jou kindly refrains from mentioning the several decades in which the militia consisted of exactly three people and in which the village did not, in fact, fall into chaos in her response."Certainly, rules are important, but common sense is needed to temper the letter of the law. Their purpose must be paid attention to as well, and not just letter, lest they be enforced wrongly. For example, what if someone was sawing at the legs of a watchtower while you were standing in it? Would you simply stand by and watch?"Ki Tei frowns. "That's a false comparison and you know it." Rei Jou continues smiling back. "It doesn't seem that way to me. The consequences may be more immediate in that case, but angering someone far beyond your power seems the same as letting yourself suffer clear danger to me."The two stare at each other for a few moments before Ki Tei finally breaks the deadlock. "I'm a vice-captain of the first squad. With the absence of the captains and the first squad's other vice captain, I am the highest-ranked person here and hold the rights of punishment."Rei Jou chuckles in response, covering her mouth as she does so. What she says next holds a venom underneath it. "Oh? I don't recall the first squad commanding the third. Can you please point to which rule established that?" She takes a heavy step forward, a loud thud sounding out throughout the room."I'll wait."
>>5599631Both of them fall into a standoff again, even more intense than before. Eventually Ki Tei manages to steel himself, turning towards you. "The intake is the first squad's territory, so we're in charge here. Come with me." Ki Tei hurries off, gesturing for you to follow him. After briefly considering the consequences of disobeying you opt to do so, Rei Jou silently following behind.Not long later you make your way to the door to Percival's office. Ki Tei lands two solid knocks on it, identifying himself. He gets a reply immediately. "Ki Tei? Come in." The three of you make your way into Percival's office. He seems a bit confused but doesn't say anything, instead asking Ki Tei what the issue is."Tetsuya Kinzou of the first squad abandoned his duty while stationed at the watchtower at the front of the intake. I have brought him here to report the issue before handing down disciplinary action." Instead of saying anything Percival places a hand to brow his brow and closes his eyes for a second, head facing down towards his desk. It takes a couple of seconds before he addresses you. His tone is less harsh and more exasperated than anything."Tetsuya, what have you to say about the incident?" You repeat the same explanation you gave to Ki Tei. Percival listens to it in silence before glancing between the three of you.Instead of saying anything to you he speaks to Ki Tei next. "Did I not say that you were only to contact me in cases of emergency?" Ki Tei seems confused. "Is this not an emergency?" Percival just sighs."Do not bother me with minor issues like this in the future. They are to be saved for daily reports. That is their entire purpose. If something is not of immediate importance, then I don't need to hear of it immediately. More importantly..." Percival turns his gaze to you."What exactly were you doing with Kain?"「Playing poker.」Percival nods slightly. "In that case... if he comes by again, be sure to accept. That is the least disruptive thing I can imagine Kain doing, frankly. You were of more use watching him than you'd be watching the forest. Of course, there will be no punishment."You can't help but smile slightly as you glance at Ki Tei, who looks baffled. He gesticulates wildly as he speaks. "B-But sir village head! If we're to let this go, then everyone will leave their posts! Discipline will break down!" Percival doesn't even try to hide his annoyance anymore."I know what I'm doing. Unless you'd prefer to announce to the entire militia that they're to play games and look after Kain during their shifts instead of doing their previous duties, then just ignore this. It's doubtful anyone besides you will even notice that Tetsuya missed part of his shift.""...Unless, of course, you already made a big deal of it in front of them before." Ki Tei bites his lip as Percival says this, having clearly realized something."Tetsuya, Rei Jou, you're dismissed. Ki Tei, stand outside until I call for you."
>>5599633When Ki Tei returns that night he's clearly unhappy, but he doesn't say anything to you. In fact, he doesn't bring up the situation at all over the four or so days, seeming to much prefer having it buried and done with. All you get instead are a few irritated glances from him as he recalls bad memories.A week has passed since the snowstorm started and it is, hopefully, about time for everyone to leave. The snow already stopped falling completely three days ago and has been decreasing ever since, becoming more navigable. The intake is less disorganized and the path towards the village center has started to be dug out again, for everyone's convenience. Soon, you'll be out.Before that happens, though, you have a late night shift. You sit in your tower, blankly staring into the night. You hold your bow lightly with one hand while the other sits in your pocket, warm from the cold. Out of habit, you point the ring towards the forest. You feel the slight sting of pain as one of the camera's data is fed to your soul, its view of the forest being added to your perception. To your great surprise, you see someone. They're hard to make out with a night-vision camera, especially at this distance, but they don't seem particularly hostile. For the time being they're just stumbling around the snow at the edge of the forest next to the intake, clearly struggling.>Observe the figure, bow at the ready. They could be a thief.>Observe the figure and say nothing. As you recall, "you are to desert your post under no circumstance, unless so outlined by the rules of the Fogtop militia or the order of a superior.">Head down and get someone to let you through the front gate. There aren't really thieves in Fogtop, so it's much more likely that the person is a resident of the village who got lost on their way to the intake due to all the snow. If you leave there's a chance that they'll get lost, and you might not be able to track them down again.>Head down and report the sighting to your superior who's on duty, Ki Tei. He's annoying, but you don't think he's necessarily a bad person. He'll deal with it properly.>Head down and look for your other superior, Rei Jou. She's not on duty, but you'd prefer to speak to her over Ki Tei. You just hope that you're not waking her.>Head down and look for Percival. You're sure this will be reported to him regardless, so you may as well skip directly to him.>Write-In
>>5599635>Call out so to alert anyone nearby, "HEY, YOU OUT AT THE FOREST EDGE, THE HELLS [or cultural equivilent] ARE YOU DOING!"We can make a lot of noise, and without leaving our post we can still aim with our bow.
>>5599635>Head down and report the sighting to your superior who's on duty, Ki Tei. He's annoying, but you don't think he's necessarily a bad person. He'll deal with it properly.
>>5599635>Head down and report the sighting to your superior who's on duty, Ki Tei. He's annoying, but you don't think he's necessarily a bad person. He'll deal with it properly
>>5599635>>Head down and report the sighting to your superior who's on duty, Ki tei
Update should be up in a couple of hours.
>>5599656 >>5599739 >>5599749 >>5600015 >>5601465It might be faster to go deal with it yourself, but eh... you think you're best off just telling Ki Tei about it and letting him do as he will. He's annoying, but he wouldn't ignore his job. You take a last look at the figure, see if you can make out any nearby landmarks that aren't buried in the snow, and then head down to inform him.You make your way towards the man's "command post", which is effectively just a chair sat in the snow. Before you reach him he notices you and stands up, meeting you halfway. When he arrives in front of you he has a kind of awkward expression on his face, clearly still feeling something about recent events, but he manages to hide it after a few seconds."Tetsuya... is there something to report?" He stares straight at you, waiting for a response.「I spotted someone near the edge of the forest, to the north of the intake.」You point in the direction.Ki Tei seems both surprised and somewhat doubtful. "You spotted them from that far away in this darkness?" You nod.「Yes sir. They were near that one large rock that some of the workers will eat lunch at, and moving from there past the intake. They seemed to be struggling.」For a few seconds Ki Tei remains silent. Then he comes to a decision. "I see. Follow me. We'll take one of the guards at the front gate and find them. More likely than not they're lost and need help. You'll know the spot better than I so you should take the lead."The two of you make your way towards the gate, which is quickly opened at Ki Tei's command. One of the guards stationed there, a member of the 3rd Squad, accompanies the two of you. Over the course of a few minutes you make your way through the darkness towards where you last saw the man. You take a slightly roundabout route and slow yourself a few times, so as to not make it obvious that you're able to easily navigate your way through the dark field of snow.Eventually you find footprints, at which point Ki Tei starts to take over. The three of you slowly follow them forward for a short time, until you eventually find their maker. A man wrapped up in quite a few layers of clothes, barely managing to force his way through the snow. Ki Tei approaches him with a hand on his belt, but mostly unguarded."Greetings! I am Vice-Captain Ki Tei of the 3rd Squad of the Fogtop militia! Do you need assistance?" The figure slowly turns to face Ki Tei. stuttering slightly as he speaks. His voice drips of exhaustion. "I-Is this the intake? I need to get to the intake."Ki Tei nods. "We just came from the intake. If you follow us back then we'll be happy to provide succor." The man doesn't say anything else, just following after the group of you as you return back. After a few moments it becomes clear that he can't keep up with the group, so Ki Tei lends him a shoulder on the way back.
>>5602074The rest of the night is rather uneventful and the incident with the man doesn't turn out to be too much. He needed a few things and thought that he could make it to the intake without much trouble. Then it got dark early, he wasted time figuring out whether to try and make camp in place, continue, or head back home, and it got darker. He got lost in the dark, and, well... he's frankly lucky that he made it here in the end at all. It's a bit unsettling how close he came to just collapsing in the snow, but thankfully things ended well.Fortunately, that day you are actually able to head home. The snow has continued to become less of an obstacle, and the path towards the village center is further dug out. Around noon you make your way back to the village center, and then from there you take a short break before trekking back home. It takes longer than usual, but it's not too bad all things considered. The village is, once again, waking up.As part of the aftereffects of the storm both Kain's caravan and the other one stay stuck in the intake, unable to leave the village given the deep snow left along the main roads. A headache for Percival to deal with, if nothing else. More depressing than that, though, are the deaths.Like the man in the forest, quite a few people ventured out during the storm. Most made it to their destinations fine, but some, well, weren't so lucky. More than any risk of running out of food or firewood in the relatively short span of a week are those who, not wanting to run out, overestimated their ability and went out to shop when the conditions weren't right: when it was too dark, windy, or they were unprepared. Such deaths are regrettable, if not particularly surprising. A few are said to crop up during every major snow, although they only come two or three times a decade, and essentially never this early.It's around a week after you left the intake. You've finished with work and are heading to Huo Mi's for your usual training. A makeshift awning hangs over her garden now, to stubbornly protect what seasonal plants remain. Not seeing her outside you enter the house to seek her out, but find that she's not there either. You have to circle around to find her behind her home, where she's crouching next to a pile of cloth.Huo Mi turns to look at you as you approach and then gestures for you to stop where you are. You're confused, but do so. That's when you notice the blood on her hand, as well as the stench of it in the air. You guess she went for an early hunting trip today.「Get anything good?」Huo Mi shakes her head, a light frown on her face. "Nope. This is, uh..." She picks up again after a moment. "...a corpse."A corpse. Well, you knew tha-Oh.
>>5602077You're not sure how to respond, but take a couple of steps backward.「Why exactly is there a corpse? Did he freeze to death?」Shortly after saying that, you realize that that's probably not the case. Too much blood for that.Instead of responding Huo Mi just stays crouched for a few seconds, mulling over something. "Found him in the woods, hanging in a tree branch. My guess is the rabbit, Was planning to take a closer look and see if I could confirm it."「The rabbit? I thought it wasn't aggressive.」Huo Mi sighs. "It normally isn't, but..." She points towards another direction. Looking in it, you find the man's things. A bow and arrows, a bloody knife, a pack of supplies, a coinpurse, and... a dead rabbit, in the middle of being skinned."He was in the right area, there's a motive, and it matches how the thing sent me into a tree. It's more likely than not." Huo Mi readjusts her position, glancing underneath the cloth. "I'd appreciate it if you headed over and told Percival about it, and that we'll need to talk. In the meantime I'll do an autopsy, see if I can figure anything out.">「Alright.」It's for the best you head back to the intake and pass on the message. You'll just be in the way.>「Mind if I help?」You haven't had the chance to see a human's internal anatomy before. You're interested, in the scientific sense.>Write-In
>>5602079>「Mind if I help?」You haven't had the chance to see a human's internal anatomy before. You're interested, in the scientific sense.
>>5602079>Mind if I help?Gotta find out where to hit people
>>5602079>「Mind if I help?」You haven't had the chance to see a human's internal anatomy before. You're interested, in the scientific sense.Will be useful in the future if we ever wanna go full demonic cultivator and try forcing our bugpeople's techniques on humans to see if it's possible to adapt.
>>5602079>「Mind if I help?」ah finally lmao ayy'vinci coming through
About done but the update ended up being pretty big so I'll have to finish it up after lunch and some other stuff.Funnily enough I have seen an autopsy but it was of very little use in writing.If any of the updates seem like they're dragging on too long (wordcount-wise) do give me a heads up, I don't accidentally want to pad stuff out but I don't want to skip over too much either.
>>5603197Unless the quality of your writing somehow drops, then more words should be the opposite of a problem.
>>5602084 >>5602094 >>5602103 >>5602105 >>5602202Right, this is important. You should go and tell the village head about it. You should do that, but first... well, you can't help but be curious.「Mind if I help?」You clarify after a moment.「With the autopsy, I mean.」Huo Mi glances at you for a few seconds without saying anything. Then she shrugs. "If you want to, sure. If the corpse gets to you, though, feel free to leave. The first time is rough."「So you've seen one before?」Huo Mi nods lightly as she stands up and circles around the body. "Yup. More than a few. I'm not a proper doctor or apothecary but I'm what passes around these parts, so you run into them." She chuckles to herself. "First one I saw was an old man that died at home. Was already worse for wear by the time I got there. Nearly passed out, although that might've been more from the smell than anything else."After circling around it once Huo Mi stops and thinks for a bit. Once she's done she addresses you again. "Don't want the house stinking like death. If you could clear off one of the worktables and drag it out here that'd be great. I'll prep him in the meantime." You do as directed, clearing off one of the larger worktables and doing your best to get it out of the workshop without leaving marks on the floor. Pretty taxing on your own, but not the end of the world. Once you're outside Huo Mi lends you a hand, making the task of moving it much easier.When you get around back you see the body. It's uncovered now, and naked. You avert your eyes, afraid of dropping what you're carrying if you look at it too hard. It's only once you have the table down that you really a get a look at it.It's a man around Takigi's age, with hair that's just starting to grey. His eyes and mouth are closed, as if at rest. He's pale, but from the face alone you can't immediately tell that he's dead. His chest breaks that illusion. It's covered in blood, bruising, tears, and scrapes. The rest of his body below that looks pretty normal, besides a few scattered scratches and bruises.It takes you a bit to process it all. Maybe around 10, 15 seconds. And then you immediately close your eyes, taking a deep breath in. Around 10 seconds later you open them, having composed yourself.You can hear Huo Mi behind you. "That was faster than I thought. You alright to help me lift him?" You nod. "Alright. You grab the legs." You walk over to the other end of his body and grab hold. It lacks any warmth, having become as cold as the snow. Huo Mi grabs him by the shoulders. On the count of three you both lift, moving him onto the table. A few patches of blood red snow are left behind where the man had laid.
>>5603380Huo Mi takes a moment to wash the blood off her hands before walking towards the storehouse. She gestures for you to follow. She heads into the back of it, opening up a non-descript chest buried behind everything else. After fishing around for a moment she turns back towards you. A small wooden box is held by its handle in her left hand and a few things are clutched in her right.She extends her right hand towards you. "Gloves and masks." You accept both. Although equipment to prevent disease was different for your original species, you're clear on the purpose. ...But now that you think of it, is Huo Mi? You haven't heard any mentions of germ theory from humans, both as Kinzou and as the both of you. Curious, you ask Huo Mi about it.「What're these for?」"To stop you from getting sick."「How's that work?」Huo Mi doesn't respond until you get back to the body, perhaps pondering the questions. "Little creatures cause some diseases. Like parasites, but smaller. Those help stop them from getting in you. Or at least that's what I've been told."So it seems that the basics are established on that front, but it might not be common knowledge. You'd like to know more if you get the chance, but now's certainly not the time to ask 100 "why"s on the subject. You stay silent as Huo Mi pulls out a few tools from the wooden box she brought. A few knives of varying sizes, including a large hunting knife. Two thin pieces of metal joined together at one end, probably to pinch small objects. A few wooden bowls. A slightly odd looking pair of scissors.All that is not including a few pieces of metal which you can't place a name to, which she sets to the side. After arranging them, she picks one of the larger knives up."I'm going to open him up. Hold those for me." She points towards two of the oddly shaped pieces of metal. "Once I have his abdomen open, you're going to use those to hold it open. Got it?"「Yep.」"All right. Watch your eyes." She starts cutting the man open without further ado, making a long cut from the bottom to top of the torso. Her movements more closely resemble that of a butcher than anything else. A few rough cuts later and an opening to the man's abdominal cavity is formed.You pull back the edge of the cavity and attach it down to the table with one of the tools you've been given. It takes a couple of tries, but eventually it stays pulled back. Then you do the same with the other side. With that out of the way, the abdominal cavity sits open for viewing.Huo Mi stares at the open cavity for a bit. "Don't see anything too out of place here. Looks like the damage was localized to the chest then. I'll cut it open next." As she prepares for the next cuts you glance at what's visible. The first impression you get is that it's bloody and wet, more like the animals you've field-dressed than the dull, medical-smelling corpses you imagine when you think of autopsies. A given with the circumstances, but it stills leaves an impression.
>>5603382You can makes out the stomach and the kidneys clearly, as well as the intestines. As for the rest, you're not quite sure what they are. You know the liver is somewhere in there, but you're not sure exactly which organ it is. Before you can mull over it, Huo Mi starts opening up the chest cavity.Once more, Huo Mi cuts the cavity open and you fix the sides down. Then the both of you get a view of the inside. It's in a much worse state than the abdomen. Unlike the intact abdomen, shards of bone and large amounts of blood are scattered about, many of the ribs broken. What should be the heart doesn't appear to be directly injured, but one of the broken ribs is piercing through a lung. What killed him, maybe? There's more internal wounds besides that, many of which would have been bleeding, so you're not sure.Huo Mi lets out a deep breath. "Poor bastard. That thing didn't send him flying just once for him to end up like this." She pauses for a moment. "I guess that means it doesn't have much of a cooldown on its mark, unfortunately. Could send him upwards over and over." She picks out shards of bone for a bit so that she can get a better view of the insides of his chest. Then, without a word, she stops."Seeing how badly he was injured is about all I needed. Can't tell much more than that he took several blunt hits, mostly to the chest. My guess would be that he kept landing against the branch I found him on until his ribs broke."「That's all then?」Huo Mi's response is somewhat muffled by her mask. "Yup. I'm not a doctor, a surgeon, or a coroner. Can't tell much more. He's lucky that he was already dead when I found him, because I wouldn't have been able to help him, not after his lung got pierced." She trails off for a second. "There is one thing though... you see this?"Huo Mi removes the devices holding back the front of the man's chest and pushes the flesh back into place. While holding both pieces down with one hand, she points to part of his chest with the other. "See this little hole? I didn't notice it before through all the blood, but it doesn't really fit. Looks a little too round for a tear made by blunt force, or for a rib to have poked through."「What's that mean then?」Huo Mi doesn't respond for a while. "I'm not sure. Could be me thinking too much into things, could be another branch pointing straight up hitting him on the way down, could've been a lot of things. Just weird is all." She takes a close look at the hole again before speaking. "If you want to be safe you don't overlook weird, even if it means you overreact sometimes."After lingering for a moment longer Huo Mi steps back and pulls her blood-stained gloves off. "I'm going to see if I can put the man back into a presentable state so that the family's a bit less mad at me. People tend not to like getting bodies back like this, for obvious reasons. As for you, after you clean yourself off just head back to the intake and go home. Won't need anymore help today."
>>5603384With the 'autopsy' done you go to pass on the news to Percival. Whether through the lingering smell of blood or the small stain of it left on your shirt, you manage to immediately grab his attention. You pass on what Huo Mi asked you to and Percival looks pleased about exactly none of it. He considers penning a letter for a bit but, perhaps deeming it too important for that, just says to have Huo Mi come by his office at her convenience so that they can discuss it in detail. With that you're sent out and head back home.Another week passes. You don't hear much about the incident with the hunter afterwards, just that it'd being dealt with between the two of them. Huo Mi seems kind of annoyed about it, so it's probably not best to bring it up repeatedly out of curiosity.You arrive at work like any other morning, getting ready to take care of some chores around the base before getting some training time in. But unlike usual, the captain is standing in front of the base with a couple of other squad members, a grave expression on his face. He intercepts you as you get ready to pass through the gate."If you need anything from inside grab it, and then assemble here." Since you're already armed and armored, you join the group. Before long the entire squad forms up by the gate, still confused as to what's going on.Despite everyone's confusion Captain Ryou doesn't seem eager to explain what's going on. Instead he just issues orders. "Go to the intake in groups of two. Don't draw attention and don't brandish your weapons. Instead of going inside the intake stop at the last bend in the road before the main gate, heading left into the forest. Stop when you see other militia members. They should be a few minutes off the road.""Does everyone understand the orders, or do I need to repeat them?" One man speaks up. "I understand the orders, but why..." He's interrupted before he can continue. "If you understand the orders, then we're done here. Jack, Mei, you leave first."Everyone is confused, but obeys. You're sent out as part of the third pair. Despite being on good terms with the other person the two of you don't manage to exchange more than a few sentences worth of small talk, the ominous atmosphere of the situation getting to the both of you.You reach the meeting spot without trouble. When you arrive you see that not only have some of your other squad members arrived there, but the first and second squads of the militia are also present. Your sense of unease only grows greater. Everyone stands in silence, the captains of the first and second squad giving off an unusual seriousness, until eventually the last members of your squad arrive.
>>5603385After a few more minutes pass Percival joins the militia's entire 31 members in the clearing. You expect him to address everyone but instead he just summons the captains and vice-captains to follow him somewhere else. It's around 15 minutes before they return. Many of the vice-captains have terrible expressions on their faces - fear, anxiety, and gloom abound. Some of them even look angry.Finally, Percival speaks to the rest of you. "Time is of the essence so I'll keep this brief. You should all be aware that Qi Ku and Kain's caravans are currently housed here due to the inclement weather." A few of you nod. Percival stops speaking for several seconds, looking away from everyone.Once those seconds are over with Percival seems to decide on something, looking back towards the all of you. "Qi Ku's caravan is a danger to Fogtop. Members of his caravan are associated with rebel elements working against the empire who wish to restore the old kingdoms. There is evidence that shows beyond a reasonable doubt that they may be carrying arms in order to support a rebellion. Not just swords and spears, but talismans or pills. Real weapons."If it were possible the clearing would've fallen into an even stiller silence. Percival hesitates a bit before continuing. "In order to ensure the safety of Fogtop and to stamp out this threat we will set out to subdue Qi Ku's caravan. Not all of their members are rebels so we will act accordingly.""Kill those who resist and capture those who willingly surrender. We'll seize their cargo and search for contraband once they're dealt with. No matter what, don't let them escape with any of the cargo."From there Percival and the three captains begins issuing more specific orders. Who will take which side in surrounding the caravan, who will stand at the back and the front, that sort of thing. You're stationed in the back of the right flank, told to shoot down anyone who tries to escape, or who is hostile. But those who try to escape take precedence you're told, in case they leave with something that could be used to get revenge on the entire militia later.
>>5603386Once everything is sorted out everyone forms up into a group and starts marching towards the main road. The atmosphere is stiff, the seriousness of things setting in. Only a few scattered whispers can be heard. Anxious, you glance at your coworkers.The captains are as calm as before while the vice-captains still seem to be adjusting, many of them still looking unsettled. The reaction among the ordinary members of the militia, like yourself, is wildly varied. Yes, taking a closer look at everyone, their reactions...Wait a minute. Something seems off here. What feels off here?It takes you a minute to place it. The people. You don't recognize a couple of the people at all, nor can you see their faces, as they're hidden under a helmet that blocks your view of them. No one else has helmets like that. As quickly as possible, you take a headcount. 31, 32, 33, 34... two extra people. They weren't there when Percival was talking, were they? You don't think they were.Confused, you take another glance at the captains and Percival. Surely one of them must've noticed, but they don't seem at all concerned. Are those two backup? Reinforcements? Or are they not supposed to be here at all, and you're overestimating how easily they'd notice?That besides, now that you think about it, what's up with the vice-captains being called out ahead of everyone else? Couldn't you all have been briefed together? Now that you think about it, there are a couple of things that feel weird.Although, of course, you could just be overreacting.>Focus on getting a better look at those two extra people. Why are they here?>Inform someone about the two extra people. You don't know whether they're friend or foe, so you need to be careful. [Specify who.]>Approach Captain Ryou and ask if there's anything else you should know about this operation. Something feels odd.>Sidle up to Rei Jou and see if she's willing to tell you anything about what Percival told the vice captains. She seems sad.>Sidle up to Ki Tei and see if he's willing to tell you anything about what Percival told the vice captains. He seems angry.>Do nothing, stay silent, and keep marching. All you can do at this point is follow orders.>Write-In
>>5603389>Focus on getting a better look at those two extra people. Why are they here?>Sidle up to Rei Jou and see if she's willing to tell you anything about what Percival told the vice captains. She seems sad.>Inform someone about the two extra people. You don't know whether they're friend or foe, so you need to be careful. [Specify who.]Rei Jou
>>5603394Support...a concerning situation to be sure.
>>5603394Sure, lets trust em.
Rolled 66 (1d100)Alright, the vote is clear. Since you're trying to multi-task and being near Rei Jou is going to make it harder to sneakily get into a position where you can see those two's faces, I'll add a quick difficulty check. Anything over 30 and you succeed.
Rolled 71 (1d100)>>5603882rollan
>>5603394 >>5603410 >>5603462 >>5603650 >>5603971Ki Tei is a stickler for rules, and the other vice-captain from your squad seems to be as accepting of the situation as the captains. If anyone among the vice captains would be willing to tell you what's going on, it's probably Rei Jou. You speed up your pace ever so slightly, aiming to catch up with her without drawing attention.Rei Jou throws a glance at you as you arrive next to her but looks away just as quickly. You slow your pace again to match hers. Then you whisper quietly, hoping that she can pick what you're saying up.「Why were the vice-captains talked to separately?」You leave it at that and continue walking normally. You take a moment to throw a glance behind you, to where those two men are walking. You can't make out their faces from here, but you can't shake the feeling that one of them is familiar.It takes a bit before Rei Jou responds. You can barely make out what she says. "Percival needed us on board too. If we made our complaints when he told everyone else, then everything would fall apart." That... makes sense. Everyone went rather smoothly back there, but that's only because the captains and vice-captains were all already silently agreeing to the matter. If any of them complained, then you imagine that a great many others would've joined in. Very few of you are prepared for something like this. Prepared to kill people.A few seconds later, Rei Jou says one more thing. "I don't like it. It's too bloodthirsty." Then she just keeps walking, a frown on her face.Your group is already back to the main road and heading towards the intake. There's not too much longer to talk.「Two men who aren't members of the militia are among us. Over your left shoulder, with large helmets.」You leave the implicit question unsaid, not wanting to talk too much. After a few seconds pass she glances back towards them. Then she just makes a small shrug with her shoulders, indicating that she's not sure about it.Seeing that Rei Jou doesn't know too much you slowly change position again. As the group advances towards the front gates of the intake you move over to the left and fall back slightly, until you're in front and just a bit to the right of the two. Then you shoot a short glance back. What you see makes you draw in a quick breath.It's Kanekatsu and Kain. They're mixed in among you. That... you're not sure what that means. Are they here to interfere? Did Percival enlist them as extra muscle, afraid of the caravan fighting back?
>>5604012You think about it for a moment and come to the conclusion that the latter is much more likely. Even if they did know about the militia's gathering ahead of time somehow, it would've been difficult for them to join in without Percival noticing. If he's willing to summon the entire militia, then he's probably willing to recruit a couple of unrelated cultivators to help reinforce you. That's understandable. You'll just... try to make a point of not being anywhere near Kanekatsu if things turn chaotic. That would be dangerous.By this time you're past the intake's walls. Laborers stop what they're doing and stare at your group marching through the snow in confusion, unsure of what's going on. It won't be long at all before you reach where Qi Ku's caravan is stationed.What do you plan to do?>Do as ordered. Stay your position and shoot to kill against anyone who tries to escape. If one of them gets away with weapons strong enough to kill cultivators, then it will put everyone in danger.>Partially disobey orders. You understand the risks of letting someone get away, but you're not willing to kill those who are fleeing. You'll try to injure them instead, so that they can't get away.>Disobey orders. Stand in the back and shoot to miss. Even if some of the men are rebels of some sort, others are innocent. Killing merchants who may be fleeing out of panic and fear would weigh on your conscience.>Redirect your attention. You were told to prioritize shooting those who were trying to escape, but you're not willing to do that. You'll aim for those who are armed instead. They may or may not be guilty of some crime, or they may simply be trying to defend themselves against a sudden assault on their caravan. Either way they are an active threat to the other members of the militia, so you will do what is needed. [Specify whether you wish to shoot to kill or shoot to injure. Shooting to kill is easier and may be more effective, while shooting to injure is harder and may not be as effective.]>Write-In
>>5604014>Do as ordered. Stay your position and shoot to kill against anyone who tries to escape. If one of them gets away with weapons strong enough to kill cultivators, then it will put everyone in danger.
>>5604014>Do as ordered. Stay your position and shoot to kill against anyone who tries to escape. If one of them gets away with weapons strong enough to kill cultivators, then it will put everyone in danger.The Dao requires significant sacrifices in lives and blood anyway, may as well get our first kill.
>>5604014>Partially disobey orders. You understand the risks of letting someone get away, but you're not willing to kill those who are fleeing. You'll try to injure them instead, so that they can't get away.
>>5604014>Do as orderedLets get a taste of death.
May or may not update today. General plan for the next short while is to get this scene written up to a conclusion so as to not leave it on a cliff hanger for too long and then to take around 4 days off for midterm stuff.
>>5604080 >>5604125 >>5604160 >>5604322Your hands tighten into a fist as you come to a decision. You will obey the orders you have been given. You will do your best to ensure that no one escapes, and shoot to kill. If that's what it takes to protect the village, then so be it. As you come to this decision the area where Qi Ku's caravan is stationed at nears. Those around you begin unsheathing their weapons. A disorganized arrangement of swords, spears, axes, and more forms around you. You unclench your fists and pull your bow from your back, retrieving several arrows as you do so. It's almost time.The troop arrives at the many wagons and pitched tents making up Qi Ku's caravan. The men milling around stare at you everyone in confusion. There is some uneasiness, but not an immediate panic - none of the caravan's men are expecting what's about to happen. Percival gestures for everyone to stop and take their positions, standing at the front of the group.All three squads spread out. The second squad on the left, yours on the right, and the first in the center. The intake's walls block the caravan's route of escape from the back. They're surrounded. By the time everyone has taken position the members of the caravan have exited their wagons and tents, alarmed by what's going on. A thin, lanky man with a wispy beard separates himself from the rest of them. A sword sits at his hip."Percival! What's going on!" The man's loud yell echoes out, heard by everyone present. It's several seconds before he receives a reply. "Qi Ku! There are men among you collaborating with the rebellion. Surrender your cargo and allows us to search it for contraband, so that we may settle this amicably."The wispy-bearded man, Qi Ku, scowls. "Rebels? Surely you jest. There are none among us with such an inclination." Percival lets out a sigh as he yells back. "We'll see about that. Now stop stalling and surrender. Weapons down, hands up, laying flat on the ground. Do that, and we can spare you. Only those with ties to rebels will be tried."Qi Ku's scowl transforms into a look of blazing fury. "You talk of sparing us?! It's you who will be begging to be spared execution once the county head hears of this. Men, form up! We'll not be maligned by this bastard!"The men of the caravan begin gathering up into groups, around half of them armed. Resistance is mounting. Before they can finish sorting themselves out, one yell makes itself heard over all. "We charge! Attack!"Percival leads the rush, most of the militia following behind him. Only a few archers and such, like yourself, stay behind. As you scan the battlefield, your focus turns to Percival. He's charging down the center of the battlefield, rushing towards Qi Ku. The calm expression on his face contrasts that of the furious man across from him.Among the slowly rising uproar, you can make out Qi Ku yell once more. "YOU MADMAN! THERE IS NEITHER EMPEROR NOR GOD THAT WOULD FORGIVE YOU FOR THIS! IS THIS ALL FO-"
>>5608783Before he can finish he's cut off. Percival arrives in front of Qi Ku, wielding his cane. The blade within is removed from its wooden sheath and Qi Ku, caught off guard, only narrowly deflects it with his sword. Both of the two step back, seemingly closely matched. A moment later the two rush towards each other again, moving at a speed that you can't follow, let alone emulate.Percival avoids directly clashing with Qi Ku, his steps and his blade lighter than his opponent's. In contrast Qi Ku continually charges forward, trying to pin Percival down and deal with him, unfazed by any of his attempts at counterattacks. The two force open a path through the battlefield as they move, most bystanders not wanting to get involved.Both sides take several minor wounds as they move, avoiding heavier ones by narrow lengths. Qi Ku's sword flashes through the air and a cut forms across Percival's left cheek, sending blood flying into the air. Before he can pull the weapon back though, Qi Ku is caught by surprise.From Qi Ku's left and right two men rush out from the crowd, their speeds nearly equal to his own. The man on the right blocks Qi Ku with his body, forcing him to slide backward before he's tackled. That leaves him vulnerable to the other attacker, however. A spear pierces QI Ku's abdomen from behind, a rain of blood blossoming behind him as he drops his sword.Qi Ku struggles, trying to find his way out of the encirclement. A burst of strength, pulled forth from the threat of death, allows him to wrench the spear from the grip of his assailant and tear it out from his body, swinging it towards those around him. Percival and the spearman narrowly manage to dodge while the barehanded man is knocked down by the spear's shaft, sent flying as collapses to the ground. His helmet rolls away as he takes the fall, revealing his appearance. It's hard to make out from this distance, but after a moment you recognize him - it's Kain.It's easy to identify the spearman from that; he should be Kanekatsu. You take a moment to ensure that no one is attempting to escape before turning your attention back to the fight. Qi Ku is bleeding heavily as he chases after Percival and Kanekatsu, waving the spear he was impaled with wildly. It's nothing but a desperate struggle.His resistance doesn't last too long before he begins to waver. Perhaps a minute. He suddenly stumbles, perhaps lightheaded from the blood loss. His frantic waving of the spear pauses. It takes him a moment to catch himself again. Percival and Kanekatsu charge in to take advantage of the situation and are only narrowly fended off. It's almost over.A pained yell sounds out across the battlefield, mingling with several others. A final show of anger from Qi Ku. Then he stops moving, nearly collapsing. Percival and Kanekatsu charge in once again, to finish him off.
>>5608795...and QI Ku's arm suddenly draws back, spear in hand. He throws it forward like a javelin, not even aiming, only hoping that it achieves something as he throws it out. A second later he falls to the ground, bowled over by the force of his own attack.It's too quick for either of them to react. The spear flies about a foot clear of Kanekatsu and then moves towards Percival, who was a bit further away from QI Ku. By sheer chance the spear passes directly by him. You see blood fly into the air as the spear passes by, likely injuring Percival's shoulder. How much, you can't tell from here.Percival reels slightly, holding his shoulder. In the meantime Kanekatsu steps forward, pulling a knife from his belt and crouching towards Qi Ku. A couple of seconds pass, and you see a pool of blood forming around the man. He's probably dead.No longer holding his shoulder, Percival yells with all his might."Qi Ku is dead! Surrender or follow him to the grave!" The dozens of men surrounding Percival all momentarily pause, taken aback. Until now, many of them didn't have the attention to spare to notice their leader's death. A silence settles over the battlefield.Then it erupts into chaos. Some man reluctantly fall to the ground, surrendering. Others attack with renewed fierceness, wanting to avenge their caravan leader no matter the cost. Many others suddenly run, hoping to get as far away as quickly as possible. You ready your bow and scan the battlefield, knowing that your time will soon come.As you stare, one thing becomes clear. The battlefield is a mess on both sides. Percival stands in the middle of it while putting on a tough attitude, perhaps attempting to scare the enemy into surrendering. Kanekatsu and Kain wander around as twin forces of destruction. The militia members of all three squads are scattered and disorganized, some fighting, some trying to stop members of the caravan from escaping, and some doing nothing at all. In fact, the entire second squad has adopted the last approach, actively making way for anyone who wants to to escape past them. You notice one of their members attempt to hold an escaping merchant carrying a box back, only to abruptly be knocked unconscious by his own captain.Before you can process everything, a man comes running in your direction. Or to be accurate, to your right. He's not looking at you, merely trying to get away as fast as possible. He's an escapee. You're supposed to shoot at him, if you can. You need to. It's an order. If he gets away, he could be a danger.
>>5608797You take a deep breath and pull back your bow as far as you can. Then you take few seconds to line up the shot. You watch how fast the man is running and then thinking about how long the arrow has to fly. You aim ahead of where he is and let loose. As the arrow flies forward you start preparing for the next shot. The first one is too slow, the man already running ahead of it by the time it lands.Second arrow. Too far, landing in front of the man by a couple of feet. You think he was staring at it as it came flying down. You would've guessed that it'd make him run faster, but instead he just keeps the same speed. Maybe he's already running as fast as he can. You shoot a third arrow. It flies along the perfect path.Arrows normally provide feedback, at least when hunting. The thud of a deer hitting the ground, the thwack of metal against flesh, or even the rustling of leaves on a miss. This provides none of that. You can't make out a single noise from among the clamor that you can attribute to yourself as the arrow lands and the man stumbles. If you didn't know better, you'd think he just tripped, but... no. An arrow just embedded itself in his stomach. Or at least you think it did.It's that simple. No grand gestures or epic combat. Not even any feedback. Just shooting a bow.A warm feeling rises up as you feel the urge to vomit. You hold it back best you can as you continue staring at the man. He's lying on the ground, rolling around slightly. You think you can make out blood.>Wrench your attention away from him and focus back on the battlefield. There are still escapees. If you mess up now, then following orders so far was meaningless. Killing him was meaningless. You need to end things cleanly.>Run towards the man. He's immobilized and can't escape. He's injured. Since he can't leave, he's not a threat anymore. You need to help him, before he dies. There's still time.>Run towards the man. Even if Huo Mi was here, you're not sure if she would be able to help him. You can't take back the seizure of another's life. But the least you can do is listen to his last words and requests before he passes. The least you can do is take responsibility.>Write-Up
>>5608800>Wrench your attention away from him and focus. If we're going to murder Kanekatsu, then we must get over the act.All protocol has been followed, orders are orders.
>>5608800>Wrench your attention away from him and focus back on the battlefield. There are still escapees. If you mess up now, then following orders so far was meaningless. Killing him was meaningless. You need to end things cleanly.Might as well commit to it
>>5608800>Wrench your attention away from him and focus back on the battlefield. There are still escapees. If you mess up now, then following orders so far was meaningless. Killing him was meaningless. You need to end things cleanly.
Midterms are done with now, regularly scheduled updates shall resume in a day or two.
>>5613034congrats on making it through
>>5608813 >>5608814 >>5608820 >>5614131You should help him. Helping him would be a morally good act. Sentient life should be valued. That's true, but...You've already made your decision. It's too dangerous to allow them to escape. Shooting is your only choice. If you're to stand by that decision, then you need to hold position and stay where you are. Or else someone else could escape and put Fogtop in danger.An unpleasant burning fills your chest as you swallow down bile. You force yourself to look away from the man, still moving about on the ground, bleeding out. If you look for too long, then you're going to waver again. You need to focus.The sensation of your arms holding your bow fills your mind. You focus on that, using it as an anchor to distract you from everything else. You take a deep breath in as you pull another arrow from your quiver. You nock it on your bow slowly, taking the time to make sure it's well-attached and centered. Then you finally take your focus off the sensation of your bow and back to your eyes, scanning the battlefield in front of you.A man is running in a bid to escape, the same as before. You loose an arrow. It's hurried and goes wide. Extremely wide. There's a tremble in your hands as you nock the next one. It misses too, but not by quite as much. By the time you have the third ready, he's probably too far away to hit. You shoot anyways. It's nearly on track, but doesn't go far enough.Your thoughts slow down to a crawl as you keep watch over the battlefield. The next person gets away from you as well, being on the edge of your range in the first place. That one isn't your fault. Then a forth appears. You miss the first shot, but it nearly hits him. He runs faster. He runs into the second arrow. It pierces through his leg. Suddenly having one of his supports taken out from under him he trips, tumbling along the ground for several feet and sending dirt flying up. You think you hear him scream.You do your best to ignore him. The fact that a leg wound shouldn't be lethal helps. You still haven't looked back at the first man you shot, to see if he's alright. For a while you keep your eyes locked in front of you, waiting to see if a fifth person comes, but... they don't. You stare and stare, and no one runs past.And then you realize that it's over.The surrendered are being rounded up. The injured retrieved. Things are coming to a close. You can see Percival speaking to the second squad in the distance. You can't make out what they're saying, only Percival's anger and the second captain's defiant attitude."〇〇!""-suya!""Testuya!" You snap to attention, turning towards the voice. It's Ryou. He looks a bit sad."Head over by the caravans and keep watch. The workers will be unloading the cargo so that it can be searched for contraband." You faintly nod, not fully focused. Then you turn your attention back to the area you were supposed to be watching. Both of the men you shot are gone.
>>5615016「Yes sir. Uh, um-」You search the field in the distance, which people are now rushing back and forth across. The only trace of your victims is the blood remaining. "What?" Ryou cocks his ehad while waiting for you to speak up.「Uh... nothing sir. I was just wondering if the men I shot needed medical attention first.」You watch as Ryou closes his eyes for a few seconds. His frown deepens slightly. Not in anger, but something else. He lets out a sigh as he responds. "That... if their injuries are treatable, they'll be dealt with. You can trust in that."That makes you feel better, if only slightly. You take your leave to guard the caravans as they're unloaded. All you can think of is the body from last week, and how many spots in the abdominal cavity could suffer an arrow wound that's still treatable.It takes a long time for the cargo to be unloaded. The smell of blood lingers about the whole time. You try to ignore it, thinking of it as no different from when you go hunting. It doesn't really work. You watch on as the men from the intake unload crate after crate, sack after sack, the caravan's entire load. Most of it's just containers full of food. Beside that's there's some linens, candles, oil, and other basic trading goods. Among it all that draws suspicion are a couple boxes full of basic cold arms - swords and spears. But you guess that's to be expected. The contraband is supposed to be small and hidden among their cargo. If it was so obvious then it would've been dealt with before now.You listen to gossip as you stand there. Complaints about the caravan. Complaints about Percival. Talks of those dead on both sides and the many captured. Whispered words about a few men who not only escaped the encirclement, but who may have escaped the intake altogether. You can't make out the veracity of any of it, so for the time being, you just ignore it. You've done the best you can. It's not worth worrying about what's going to come.Once the caravans are unloaded Ryou says you're allowed to go home early. You just nod and take your leave. When you get home Nui asks why you're home early, but you don't really want to talk about it. You just mutter something about work ending early before lying down to sleep, still dressed. The embrace of sleep frees you from your worries.You sleep for a long time. You think you wake up in between, but you're not sure. If you did, you went back to sleep immediately. For the most part you don't dream, but what dreams you do have aren't pleasant. Going hunting with Huo Mi and landing a solid shot into a buck's side, only for the guts of a human to pour out. The pained face of the man you shot stares back at you from among them, made from viscera. You wake up in a cold sweat. Not wanting to go back to sleep, you get up early and head outside.
>>5615022For a while you just sit by the woodpile, thinking. You think about a lot of things, although it's all mixed together and complicated, occasionally contradicting each other. You hope the men from yesterday are alright. You hope that they're innocent and don't suffer punishment, but at the same time hope that they're part of the smugglers, so that what you did is better justified. You really hope they don't have a family.During all this you can't help but chastise yourself for caring so much. For all practical purposes you killed Mu Bou, and you're not torn up about that. But you know that's not the same. That was you, yes, but it wasn't the current you. Back then you weren't a human, nor were you mixed up with Kinzou. While you think that Hops came out on top in retaining their personality, elements of both of them got mixed into you, for better or for worse. You can't control that.Before you can put too might thought into considerations of who exactly you are, the sun begins rising. You stop thinking and stand up. You're cold and your butt hurts from sitting on that wood pile for so long. You should just ready breakfast and get to work. There will be plenty of time to think about things in the future.You don't talk much during the morning either, but you try to keep up a better attitude than yesterday. Nui asks you about yesterday and you just tell her that you were feeling sick. Like any mom she gets worried, asking how you're feeling, suggesting that you stay home, and so on. You thank her but say that you're feeling better now and that you'll visit Huo Mi if you get sick again. After that you leave for work, the same as every morning.Yesterday's incident doesn't seem to have affected only you. Only a bit more than half the squad arrives in the morning, the captain not included. Jack comes in a bit late, only to announce that he's quitting. He thanks everyone for their help with a bitter smile before asking if they could please inform Captain Ryou when he returns. Not much gets done by noon, most everyone either halfheartedly practicing or doing errands around the camp. Only a couple seem unaffected by what happened yesterday.It's lunch. Captain Ryou still hasn't shown up. There are no orders for you to follow, or specified tasks to do. Only four of you are still milling around the base, a few having gone home for the day already. You're thinking about what to do.>May as well head to Huo Mi's early today. It doesn't seem like the captain is going to show up, so you'll call it a day.>Maybe you'll stop by Char's house. He spends most of his time training there, so perhaps you could join him. It'd make for a nice change of pace.>Everything is a bit overwhelming right now. You'll just go for a long walk. It might make you feel better.>Is doing anything else going to be any better? May as well putter about the base. You're already here.>Write-In
>>5615029>Maybe you'll stop by Char's house. He spends most of his time training there, so perhaps you could join him. It'd make for a nice change of pace.
>>5615029>Distract ourselves around the base until it's time for us to head to Huo Mi's. Tidy up the base if it's dirty or clean the uniforms or whatever other menial stuff we'd do here.
>>5615029>May as well head to Huo Mi's early today. It doesn't seem like the captain is going to show up, so you'll call it a day.Get some old lady wisdom.
>>5615029>May as well head to Huo Miperhaps we can get some stabilizing phrases out of her
>>5615029>May as well head to Huo Mi's early today. It doesn't seem like the captain is going to show up, so you'll call it a day.
>>5615035 >>5615040 >>5615082 >>5615499 >>5615801Doesn't look like anything is going to get done today. You'll take your leave and head to Huo Mi's early. Things'll be more productive that way. And maybe she'll have a way to help you deal with... this. She was used to bodies after all.You bid farewell to the few others left before you leave. They give a somewhat half-hearted reply. From there you trundle through the mixture of snow new and old covering the ground as make your way towards Huo Mi's cabin. On the way there you pass through the center of town. The atmosphere feels dark, and a bit subdued. You're not sure if that's real though - could just be you. Before long you leave it behind you, approaching Huo Mi's cabin.The surroundings of her home are calm, devoid of life. You make your way inside. Huo Mi sits at the table, holding a small glass full of alcohol. She glances at you as she swirls it around."You're early. And you look like shit." A short silence. "Sit down." Huo Mi downs the glass as you take a seat. You see her glance at the bottle of alcohol it came from for a moment, pausing before reluctantly sealing it up and setting both the bottle and her glass aside.You feel uncertain about how to start the conversation. What to bring up, and whether you should really try to unload your problems on someone else. Perhaps tiring of the silence, Huo Mi takes the lead. "Heard that Percival raided a caravan yesterday." You don't respond immediately. "Were you a part of it?"The next two seconds you spend very interested in your fingers, staring at where they meet the table. Finally, you drag a reply out from within yourself.「...Yes.」The clinking of glass sounds out as Huo Mi puts her bottle into a nearby cabinet.「I was put to use as an archer.」Huo Mi saves you the trouble of elaborating further. "You kill someone?" You don't want to say yes. If you do that it feels like it will set things in stone somehow.「Maybe. I shot two men.」You look up, towards Huo Mi, who has sat down once again.「One in the abdomen, and one in the right leg. I don't know what happened to them.」The sound of Huo Mi rapping her hand against the wooden table fills the room. Then she sighs. "Well, let's put aside what happened for now. I'm guessing you're shaken up by it, and you... well, maybe aren't quite looking for advice, but might be hoping for it." Your silence serves as confirmation."I've killed myself. More than once." Huo Mi stands up and starts taking out the alcohol again. "I don't regret killing, but that doesn't mean I don't remember it." She starts pouring herself a drink. "You never stop remembering them. It gets easier, but the memories never go away completely. Nor should they."
>>5616532Huo Mi stares down at her glass for a moment before continuing. "As humans, we can take lives and we can save lives. But we can never bring them back. No matter what justification it's dressed up with killing is killing, ending the life of another person forever. The life of another person with a father and mother, and a family beyond that. A person who may mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It should be treated with the weight that it deserves. A respect for the fact that we've snuffed out another life in living our own." She swallows down her drink without saying anything."Not that I think it's unjustifiable to take a life." Huo Mi pauses for several several seconds, staring up at the ceiling. She struggles to say what comes next. "I... I think what I've done is justified." She stops again. "The deaths I've caused have made the world a better place. The same as those I've prevented."An awkward silence falls over the two of you again. Huo Mi finally breaks it with a loud laugh that drags on, as if she just heard the funniest joke. "Or maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that that's the case. Everyone puts themselves first, after all." Her laughter calms down, but she's still smiling. "But, well, I think I'm in the right. If I didn't, then I wouldn't have done it."She doesn't take as long to think as before. "All in all, it's less in how you handle it. It's in putting the thought in ahead of time, in making sure you won't do something you regret later. But even as time passes, you'll always remember it." She pours herself one more drink as she finishes speaking."Remembering it is what makes us human."After that, Huo Mi asks you to sort through the warehouse. That gives you some time to sort through your thoughts as well. Not that it helps too much. But at least the thought that there might be something wrong with you fades, as does some of the regret. What's done is done. All you can do is live on while taking it into consideration.The captain comes to work the next day, same as normal. Besides Jack, there's still another person missing though. Ryou mentions that they suffered a major wound during the battle almost in passing, seeming not to want to go deeply into it. After that the day is as ordinary as can be, mood aside. You train, do what tasks are assigned to you, and eat lunch. Life goes on.Well, at least for you it does. Not everyone is so lucky.Later in the week news of an attempted jailbreak spreads. Apparently a group of those captured attempted to escape from the building they were held in using contraband talismans kept on their selves. They even succeeded, blowing their way out of their restraints.
>>5616539But unfortunately for them, it went beyond that. The power of the talismans were too much and they couldn't control them. They blew their way not only out of their restraints, but out of the basement they were kept in entirely. All the prisoners kept were caught up in the resulting explosion, their prison suddenly engulfed in an inferno. No survivors were left by the time those present could put out the blaze.With that, the caravan incident mostly comes to a close. There are rumors of a couple of escapees that haven't been accounted for, but not much beyond that. The village has starts to forget about the raid, even if those involved haven't. Time moves on.It's been around a week. You were getting ready for work, but today you'll have to skip. Not out of laziness, or to do something fun, but because you feel a certain sensation within you. Like a chest stuffed full to bursting, ready to overflow. You think you're about to undergo your 2nd Tempering.「Sorry mom, but could you tell work that I'm going to be out today.」Nui glances at you and cocks her head.「I think I'm going to have a breakthrough. Just tell them I'm sick, or something.」She smiles at you. "Congratulations!""Oh, I should make something nice for dinner tonight. The buying limits are still in place but we have some good meat. I could make a stew with that..." You clear your throat.「Thanks mom. But, uh, about work...」Nui snaps back to attention. "Of course. I'll head over and tell them after I finish up with breakfast." You thank her again.With that dealt with, there's the more important question of where you're going to undergo your tempering.>You'll stay here. There's no place like home.>You'll find somewhere in the woods to go through it. You'd rather not worry Nui if anything odd happens, like last time.>You'll head over to Huo Mi's. You might be imposing but she probably knows the specifics of this kind of thing better than you do, and could be able to help.>You'll go to Char's. Over the years their family should gotten a decent understanding of the different temperings, and hopefully they'll be able to inform you of what's about to happen.>Write-In
>>5616545As for what comes after that... what should your 3rd Tempering be?>The Meridians. Tempering the meridians may force the meridians partially open, as well as strengthening them. This can make it easier for a Body Tempering cultivator to absorb and manipulate spiritual energy, among other things. Due to the difficulty of tempering the meridians in other ways, and the cultivation benefits, those able to tend to leave it for last.>The Bones. Improves the strength of the bones, and allows one to stand strong against physical attacks. Highly valued by those who espouse an absolute defense - the type of cultivator who is fine with getting beaten and bruised, but never completely broken.>The Marrow. Tempering the marrow can help improve recovery time, physical wellness, and lifespan, but doesn't provide many direct benefits. The manual mentions that it's often chosen as a first tempering so as to reserve later temperings for more important parts of the body. The main exceptions to this rule are the ill or physically infirm, who may prize the health benefits more greatly, or those who simply don't expect to cultivate very far, who would rather temper more useful parts of their body.> The Skin. Among the two temperings which focus on defense, the skin tends to be more highly valued than bones due to the increased sensitivity to touch this tempering offers. Cultivators focused on weapon techniques, or who need keen senses, like to leave it until later.>The Muscles. Tempering the muscles allows for a great increase in the amount of pure force that a cultivator can output. Brawlers and cultivators focused around purely force like to leave it for later.>The Tendons. Tempering the tendons improves strength, but in a different way from the muscles. Instead of focusing on outputting the maximum amount of strength as much as possible, tempering the tendons is more about sudden bursts of strength, and control over one's body. Cultivators focused around speed, flexibility, or gracefulness, may leave this tempering until later.>The Brain. Tempering the brain generally improves mentally recall and acuity, although the effects can vary more among individual cultivators than with other temperings - not all cultivators are smart. Often left to be one of the last temperings due to the all-round benefits and the difficulty of tempering the brain through other methods. Especially important among cultivators hoping to become administrators, those lacking in perceptivity, or those, such as weapon-focused cultivators, who highly value perceptivity.
>>5616545>You'll go to Char's. Over the years their family should gotten a decent understanding of the different temperings, and hopefully they'll be able to inform you of what's about to happen.Kanekatsu and Kane are involved with this explosion, I'm sure of it
>>5616547>The Marrow. Tempering the marrow can help improve recovery time, physical wellness, and lifespan, but doesn't provide many direct benefits. The manual mentions that it's often chosen as a first tempering so as to reserve later temperings for more important parts of the body. The main exceptions to this rule are the ill or physically infirm, who may prize the health benefits more greatly, or those who simply don't expect to cultivate very far, who would rather temper more useful parts of their body.
>>5616547> The Marrow. Tempering the marrow can help improve recovery time, physical wellness, and lifespan, but doesn't provide many direct benefits. The manual mentions that it's often chosen as a first tempering so as to reserve later temperings for more important parts of the body. The main exceptions to this rule are the ill or physically infirm, who may prize the health benefits more greatly, or those who simply don't expect to cultivate very far, who would rather temper more useful parts of their body.
>>5616545> You'll go to Char's. Over the years their family should gotten a decent understanding of the different temperings, and hopefully they'll be able to inform you of what's about to happen.
>>5616545>You'll go to Char's. Over the years their family should gotten a decent understanding of the different temperings, and hopefully they'll be able to inform you of what's about to happen.>The Muscles. Tempering the muscles allows for a great increase in the amount of pure force that a cultivator can output. Brawlers and cultivators focused around purely force like to leave it for later.
>>5616545I don't want to shit and puke in chars house. And we're gonna need a lot of food for this.>Somewhere in the woods.>>5616547in order of descending importance [revised from my last list]MeridiansTendonsBonesBrainSkinMusclesMarrowSince we seem to be really leaning into the archer style. So we want a lot of agility and reflex shit.>Marrow
>>5616547> You'll go to Char's. Over the years their family should gotten a decent understanding of the different temperings, and hopefully they'll be able to inform you of what's about to happen.>The Marrow. Tempering the marrow can help improve recovery time, physical wellness, and lifespan, but doesn't provide many direct benefits. The manual mentions that it's often chosen as a first tempering so as to reserve later temperings for more important parts of the body. The main exceptions to this rule are the ill or physically infirm, who may prize the health benefits more greatly, or those who simply don't expect to cultivate very far, who would rather temper more useful parts of their body.
>>5616545>You'll head over to Huo Mi's.or chars place really any of those two sounds safe enough to not have to worry exceedingly>>5616547>The Tendons.i dont think we got a immediatly usefull tempering yet and as we just witnessed shit hitting the fan happens willy nilly, having an insurance beyond outside influences + we're going to take the entrance exam at the sect so some power might be slick
>>5616875I don't think that crippling our long term prospects over short term issues is the wisest course of action.
>>5616897we actually dont know if its crippling at all?we know it isnt as strong as it could be but what does it mean to have a bunch of tits on the roof if we could have a pigeon in our hand? we could go and ask chars father about the sect entrance exam and then make our decision.The drawback we have right now is that we put all our eggs into the future but have no safe way of reaching that future.And i want to point out that leaving the brain for last is prolly our best course of action considering our origin. We are originally a species with 2 (two) brains so putting the brain anywhere except last is like amputating our brain a second time. the brain in my eyes is the only thing we want as good as possible everything else sounds more like a temporary stopgap measure. after all we dont want to stop at being the level after the temperings and at some point the little boni we get from our temperings will be so neglible that thinking back and being like "yeah lets leave tendons for last cuz we want to not be usufull until we did all temperings wowee" building a house ideally isnt what we can afford or are even able to.and please dont use the "we wanna go archer tho" line, anons are fickle as fuck and we already went from "yeah we wanna be on the downlow" to joining the fucking guard lmao
>>5616897plus i forgot to say why do you think kanekatsu is a "short" term problem lmao
>>5617603No, the meridians have to be last, to do otherwise is to hurt our future cultivation in the higher levels, because it will start to get exponentially harder. The brain should be the second to last that we do though.
>>5617603[Spoiler]It's not "crippling" in the conventional senses of rendering us disabled, but it will hamper us greatly later.The reason I say this is simple, because the meridians determine our capacity to metabolize and absorb Qi, which we need to advance in cultivation. The later this is left, as stated by the author of our instruction sheet [a person at the top of body refining], the better the flow of energy we have access too and that means our cultivation speed will be increased.Evidence the second, Toki [the dad] chose meridians first to try and get as much help as he could with his temperings since he had no expectation of surpassing many temperings, so the short term was all he could focus on.Now the faster we can cultivate, the quicker we can advance and you can see the obvious benefits of such an action. referring again to the text, strengthening the meridians in other ways is very difficult and extrapolating from that, quite rare. This is our BEST long term option as a cultivator.[/spoiler]Okay, you may ignore the blacked out parts of this post, as I've just re-read what you ACTUALLY said rather than confusing it with another anons comment, but I don't feel like wasting the effort I put into the write up.Allow me to start again, Why we should delay tendons [or a small explanation of my though process in my lists]The view that I take is that we should ALWAYS keep the bigger picture in view. The long road is of the most importance to us and our ultimate goal as a cultivator is to achieve ultimate power. Sure we want to kill kanekatsu but he's not a long term threat [I will elaborate in a minute]. So any option which costs us great future benefits such as gaining a short term boost now vs a larger boost later needs to be weighed as according to how much of that lost potential is invaluable.The Tendons improvement increases Speed, Flexibility and Grace. Speed is a god stat in most every situations and our current inclinations towards ranged combat and the bow also incline me to value it highly.Marrow improves recovery time, physical health and lifespan. All good but it's mostly to do with recovery rather than avoiding harm, and the lifespan increase is negligible when our ultimate goal makes us immortal. And by taking it now, we get a boost to our fitness without costing us a greater pay off in our defined combat stats.Now this brings me back to Kane and why he's a short term problem, rather than a long term.Kane is at 5th tempering [Which I think means he's tempered 5 things rather than 4 and is working towards his 5th] and a grown ass man. He's somewhat powerful, as demonstrated from the fight scene at the caravan, but only aware that we are cultivating and not how far along. We are also protected by being a guard, Hou Mi's reputation and currently being too small a fry to be worth quashing.But we are going into 3nd tempering. and have caught up within about a year or so. Equaling him in 2.
>>5618082Now if we are going to match him in 2 years, a time in which ideally we should also be a member of a sect, then by the time we are in the 7th tempering we should already have eliminated him, or at least be capable of doing so physically and having that loathesome loanshark protected through his economic and political connections alone.Once he is surpassed he's a man on borrowed time. And that time running out is going to be a death sentence as power feeds favor with others which we can levy against him.Now speaking of physically destroying that leech, this brings me back to our temperings and their order.You said that "building a house ideally isn't what we can afford" but that's exactly what we can afford. As we use our not immediately helpful/vital temperings to the front, the runover energy is still strengthening the rest, just to a much lesser extent.Our muscles are those of a 20 year old in a 13 year olds body, and we've not upped our muscles yet. So for prime "kick the ass of Kane" potential, we'll want to sync our temperings to get our immediate combat potential as close to the point of where we hit at him, so that on an equal tempering field we are either equal [because he chose the same bonus] or superior [because he put that shit before us or hasn't started it yet] which will ensure the smoothest ride of killing him.I guess to condense all this down, is don't get rattled and undercut our future benefits, he's not gonna kill us before we try out for the sect and he ultimately can't advance quicker than we can because we have ring cheating bullshit and our job is to train all day.Your point about the trials coming up is valid, but I think we can tip the scales by revealing our growth rate.Your other point about the bonus being negligible eventually is also truthful, but by the time we make them irrelevant, we'll have already replaced them with techniques and crap that makes us more speedy/strong/hale and hearty so we can continue to remain at the top of our level rather than start getting there.Brain placement. . Hmm. I can be convinced to put brains at number 7, but our primary combat stat should really be 8. Unless you can make serious arguments for int boost over agility boost.
>>5618109Not that anon but, the description does say that tempering brain is by other means and it's useful for weapon cultivators, so making it the second to last would be greatAlso, we have a lot of info stored in the ring that we aren't able to defragmentate anymore because we are out of storage space in our head, I bet it would give a big upgrade to our memory capacity.
Oh, and here's my opinion on the order we should temper3 - Marrow - Recover more quickly, extra helath and more lifespan4 - Muscles - Extra strength, but fit for brute strength5 - Bones - Exre defense, but fit more for a brute6 - Skin - Both defense and senses, good for weapon cultivators7 - Tendons - Strength and agility in one package, best combat tempering, specially for weapon cultivators8 - Brain - Intelligence, memory and senses - good for weapon cultivators too9 - Meridians - Makes future cultivation easierWe could invert Skin and Tendons with Muscle and Bones if we decide to not continue being a spear and bow fighter in the future
>>5618126that tempering brain by other means is difficult
Been busy built a new PC but found out the MOBO was DOA when I finished but I'll have an update up tonight.Lots of theorizing and debate about cultivation order, huh. I like it.
>>5616548 >>5616702 >>5616711 >>5616805 >>5616853 >>5616875You've bothered Huo Mi enough recently, and with how many breakthroughs Char's family has gone through in the last few generations combined you'd imagine they're better versed in the subject than her. You'll impose upon them for your breakthrough.The path to Char's house is quiet, the only sound accompanying you being that of snow underfoot. Even in warmer years the songbirds would be disappearing by now, and this is by no means a warm year. Eventually the snowy waste gives way to a well-trodden path leading into the village center. From there it's not long before you knock upon the Mu family's door.The same young woman you've seen around Char's house before answers it - a maid or stewardess of some sort, you believe. She greets you with a smile. "Mr. Tetsuya? Have you come to visit Char?" You shake your head. 「I was hoping to speak with Mu Jing, actually.」She raises her eyebrow in mild surprise. "Oh. I'll alert him of your presence. Please wait in the sitting room in the meantime."You're invited in and left to your own devices for a bit. After around five minutes Mu Jing enters the room, looking at you with an expression of interest."I didn't expect a visitor so early in the morning. Did something happen?"「No -」Wait, that's not right. You catch yourself.「- ah, well, yes, but nothing bad. I think I'm going to breakthrough today.」Mu Jing just stares at you for a couple seconds, perhaps thinking, before you get a response."Congratulations. What's your second tempering?" The statement is said with a blunt tone and a concerned expression, as if Mu Jing is worried about something.「The sensory organs.」Mu Jing lets out a visible sigh of relief."The sensory organs... messy and painful, certainly, but not as bad as some of the other temperings. We can prepare a place for you to undergo it here, if that's what you're after." You bow slightly and thank him for the help.「More importantly though, you mentioned that it was a messy? What's it like? My manual didn't mention...」Mu Jing furrows his brow. "Well, that... it's a bit hard to describe. What was your first tempering?"「The inner organs.」Mu Jing nods to himself as he organizes his words. "Well, when tempering part of the body it needs to be cleansed. This results in a few phenomena, but the main one we would notice during the inner organ tempering is, well... the stomach problems. The stomach, bowels, and related organs are one of the main components of the inner organs, and thus they're thrown into overdrive during the tempering. One eats a lot to prepare and provide energy for, er, removing old impurities from themselves.""With that as a basis, you may be able to guess what some of the other temperings are like. When tempering the sensory organs you can expect your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth to act up. Your senses may also go temporarily. It's not a fun process but, well, it's an unavoidable one."
>>5618821Char's father lets out a grunt as he stands up. "But that's enough of that. We should prepare the room and let you get through your breakthrough first, lest it happen before you can get ready. Follow me."You oblige, following Mu Jing as he leads you past the garden and to what's effectively a small shed detached from the rest of the home. It's dark and lacking in windows, making it so that you can only get a good look at it all when Mu Jing lights a small lamp mounted to one wall of the room.The improved lighting reveals an unsettling sight. Bloodstains are scattered across the floorboards and lower walls of the cramped wooden room and parts of it look worse for wear, like someone punched or ran into the walls and floor. Combined with how cramped and bare the room is, it gives off the mood of a dungeon.Mu Jing lets out an awkward cough as you examine the room. "It's a bit messy, but there's no reason to be alarmed. When one undergoes a breakthrough it can be... chaotic, and this room simply represents that. All the blood and such is just from breakthroughs members of our family have gone through since we settled down in Fogtop."You simply nod in reply, glancing around the tiny room one more time. Then you turn back towards Mu Jing.「Is it fine for the room to be this small? Don't you need to move around a lot before a breakthrough?」He chuckles in reply. "That's one way of doing it, but it's not necessarily a requirement. If you think you're close, then just focus yourself and wait. It will usually come on its own."With that Mu Jing leaves, saying that he has a few other matters to deal with - something about managing a property of the family's. When the door closes you're left to sit in silence in the dim and cramped room. You can't help but think about what a contrast it is when compared to the rest of the nice, somewhat luxurious home.Occasionally you can hear the sound of Char exercising, or someone passing through or tending to the garden outside, but for the most part there's nothing but the sound of your heart and breath to keep you company. You stare at the flame of the lamp on the wall for some time and eventually fall into a bit of a trance. Nothing magical, just a state of focus. Time passes - whether minutes or hours you're unsure - until, eventually, you feel the energy within you concentrating one last time, preparing to burst out all at once. It's time for your second tempering.The first thing you feel is an unnatural warmth spreading throughout your mouth, slowly intensifying. It reminds you of Ryou's hotpot. And then the heat transforms into bursts of pain. You tentatively reach a hand into your mouth, feeling around, only to pull it back just as quickly. There's blood on your hand and it feels like your tongue has nearly split apart, the top of it feeling cracked and aching from pain.
>>5618822Before you can focus on your mouth, however, the warmth moves to your nose. You suddenly break out into a sneezing fit, unable to hold it back despite your best efforts. Your eyes water as unprecedented amounts of blood and snot pour out of your nose. All you can think of is that you're glad you took off your shirt beforehand.By the time the feeling withdrawls, a coating of blood and snot has begun to dry across your face and upper chest. For the time being you decide not to wipe at it, figuring that you'll probably just get dirty again anyways. As the warmth moves towards your eyes you momentarily notice how odd it is that you can't smell any of the blood that you're practically covered in. That thought disappears quickly though, suddenly overwhelmed by the combined pain of your mouth and eyes.Your vision suddenly blurs as liquid pours from your eyes. You struggle to make the liquid out through all of it. As best you can tell it's a mixture of tears and pus, you think? Maybe it's for the best that you can't see it - it's not gonna be pretty. You wait for your vision to clear but as the liquid pours down your vision only gets worse, your eyes burning, feeling like something is caught in them. After a minute your vision goes from blurry to faded, all that's in front of you being the vague shape of a lamp, a beacon of light in a world of darkness. Then, that light fades completely. All that tethers you to this world is the sound and sensation of yourself unsteadily moving about the room, your other three senses robbed from you.Unsettled by looking around but seeing nothing you unconsciously close your eyes, relieving the cognitive dissonance by a bit. Then you wait in both fear and anticipation as the heat moves towards your ears. You can feel them burn slightly before the sensation of liquid flowing out can be felt. You lie down on your back to let it flow out from each side. Eventually the sound of your breathing fades, and then the sound of yourself moving about. There's a sudden high, sustained pitch in your ears, and then... nothing. If it weren't for the sensation of your body rubbing against the tough wooden floor, then there would be nothing at all for you to anchor yourself to. Well, except the pain, you suppose.Your thoughts fade as you 'stare' at the darkness. You're not sure how long you lie there before you feel things gradually change. The heat fades and sound starts to return. First the same high-pitched, sustained tone as before, and then your breathing and heartbeat. The sounds seem just a bit crisper than before, as if your ears were just cleaned.
>>5618829Next an itching sensation comes from your eyes and you begin to see a slight light from beyond your eyelids. You try to open them but find them practically sealed shut by whatever came out. After struggling for a moment you have to force your eyelids open with your hands. When you do, you're pleasantly surprised by what you see. The light of the lamp is a tad richer than earlier and the bloodstains in the wood hold a bit more depth, your vision made sharper.While you take a moment to rub the crud out of your eyes the scent of blood begins to flood in. It's strong - stronger than you think it should be, given the amount on your face. Whether that's the effect of the tempering or your imagination thinking that's the effect of the tempering, you're not quite sure.The last area to return to normal is your mouth but you simply feel the pain fade there, with no signs of your taste being improved. Understandable, since you're not eating anything.You let out a deep sigh after you confirm that everything is over with. You have quite the tolerance for pain, but that wasn't fun - it went a bit beyond just pain. At least it's over with now. From here on you can plan out your cultivation and continue moving forward. You stand up with a grunt as you push open the door to the room. You cover your eyes with a hand, taking a moment to adjust to the bright light of the afternoon after being cooped up in that room all morning.As you struggle to adjust to the light you hear someone approaching. You uncover your eyes and blink a couple of times as you look at them. After a moment you can make out a young woman dressed in a winter kimono. Char's older sister. Hana, you think.The two of you stare at each other for a moment before she suddenly turns around and quickly shuffles away. You, uh... did you scare her? You probably are covered in quite a bit of blood and, uh, other stuff right now. Yeah, she's probably scared. You spend a moment contemplating whether you'll need to apologize later before she reappears, holding a towel in hand. She dips it into one of the few untouched patches of snow in the vicinity of the garden before approaching you."You're dirty! You should've brought a towel in with you!" Char's sister speaks in a somewhat chiding tone as she suddenly smothers you with the wet towel. You attempt to resist, but since you're hesitant to use any significant amount of force your struggles are doomed from the beginning. You can make out the pleasant smell of flowers coming from her at the same time as the wet towel is shoved and rubbed against your face. Eventually you are granted mercy and freed from your cotton prison, now covered in blood and grime.
>>5618831Eyes finally uncovered once more you see Hana standing there, towel in hand. "There we go! That's better!" She smiles with a sense of accomplishment as she folds the towel back up. As she does you can make out an odd green blotch on the skin of her right arm, visible due to the folded up sleeves of her kimono.>Casually ask about it. That's certainly a peculiar birthmark.>Thank her for the help and find Char before she returns with another towel, attempting to finish the job. You don't want to be smothered again.>Thank her for the help and find Mu Jing, to thank him for letting you use the room.>Write-In
>>5618832>Thank her for the help and find Mu Jing, to thank him for letting you use the room.Marrow is gonna be nasty as hell isn't it?
>>5618832>Thank her, then go talk to Mu Jing. Ask him about Marrow temperingI also wanna go play with Char afterwards. Because why not
>>5618832>Thank her for the help and find Mu Jing, to thank him for letting you use the room.
>>5618832but is she a jadelike beauty?>Thank her for the help and find Mu Jing
>>5618840 >>5618980 >>5619004 >>5619056You hesitantly back away from the towel-wielding girl.「Uh, thanks. Hana, right?」She quickly nods a couple of times in response, still folding up the towel.「I'll... uh, be going now. I should thank your father for letting me undergo my tempering here.」Without saying anything further you begin speed-walking past her and towards the main house."Ah, wait! There's still blood in your hair!" You walk faster.Mu Jing is taking a break from whatever he normally does to eat lunch and is able to meet you without much delay. Instead of taking a seat like normal he just stands there eating out of a wooden box, leaving the speaking to you.「My breakthrough went fine. Thank you for the assistance.」He nods and waves his hand. You guess you'll take that as "You're welcome." Or maybe it's more like "it's not a problem". Mu Jing doesn't clarify, only pausing his meal for a moment to ask a question."Hwat ehs your nekd ape brew?" You stare blankly for a moment. Mu Jing finishes chewing and swallows a bite of food. "Which part are you planning on tempering next?" Ah.「The marrow.」He gives a thumbs-up as he takes a bite out of what you think is a meat pie.「How is the marrow tempering?」Mu Jing just stares at you for a few seconds, chewing. You take that time to clarify.「In terms of pain and stuff, I mean.」He swallows."Ah, well... it's not too bad. Of course it will vary based on when you temper it, your body, and just random chance, but from what we know it's not too bad. It drags on for a long time though, and it makes it feel like your bones are itching."「Itching...?」He nods. "It's a bit hard to describe but that's the best comparison. After a few days to a week it will subside, but in the meantime it's rather uncomfortable. Whether you'd prefer that or temporary pain depends on the person."Huh. Well, that sounds uncomfortable, but not as bad as you were imagining. You had thought the old marrow might have to leave the body so that it can be replaced, something that would be a massive understatement to describe as 'painful'.Worries relieved and thanks conveyed you bid Mu Jing farewell and go on your way. You consider saying hi to Char before you leave, but since he's in the middle of his training you leave him to it. Hopefully the both of you can make it into the Verdant Mountain Sect come spring.You adjust to your new senses and strength over the next week. The improvement to your senses isn't life-changing but it is marked enough to notice. Your all-around sight and hearing are better, your ability to distinguish and pick up scents is improved, and flavors are easier to tell apart. You're not sure how useful the last part is, but, well, you suppose it'll come in handy if you ever intend to become a gourmet.
>>5619816You arrive at work and hurry into the lodge, wanting to warm up for a moment. It's still as snowy as ever, small amounts of it falling a couple of times a week. It's not as inhospitable as during the major storms but it's enough to make sure that coating of snow never actually leaves the ground completely. As a result Kain's caravan is still stuck in the village, perhaps for the long-term. For the time being they move out of the intake, relocating to several properties of Kanekatsu's. You suppose that confirms the relationship between them, although it wasn't really in doubt before.Everyone is present, the awkward mood from after the raid mostly gone, even if your nightmares aren't. Ryou enters and glances at everyone gathered around, preparing for the day. "Glad to see you're all here. I have an announcement, so finish up what you're doing and gather around." Everyone obliges, finding somewhere to sit around the lodge.Ryou glances around and clears his throat. "Ahem. Effective immediately, Percival is requesting that all three squads of the militia report to the intake." Everyone freezes up, yourself included. A couple people recoil or drop what they're holding. ...It seems that you're not the only one who's still thinking about the raid.Caught off guard by the mood, the captain quickly clarifies. "Not for a special operation or anything like that. Nothing dangerous or violent." Most of those present are visibly relieved. "No, he just said that the intake needs more security, so that we should all go there. But, uh..." He trails off. "..he said he'd like everyone to move in temporarily, for the winter. You can bring your immediate family with you as well."Just as quickly as it recovered the atmosphere is shot. It takes a second before anyone responds. One of the vice captains, Han, raises his hand. He speaks without waiting for a response from the captain. "Why?"Ryou responds in a monotone. "The village head said more security is required around the intake. That is what I am supposed to pass on." Han scratches the back of his scalp and nods a couple of times before responding in a lazy drawl. "Yeah, I got that. But I'm not asking Percival, I'm asking you. Why?"Han and Ryou stare at each other for a few seconds, not saying anything. Not getting a response, Han pushes further. "Personally I'm fine obeying orders, but I'm afraid that some of us might not be willing to if we don't get a proper explanation. Jou, isn't that right?" Rei Jou glares at him, but doesn't say anything about the use of her first name. "Yes, I concur. I think problems could arise if the captain doesn't say more. Of course we wouldn't cause any, but..."
>>5619820Rei Jou trails off as she stares at Ryou. He lets out a sigh. "Guess I can't keep everything under wraps. To keep things short and to keep my hide from being tanned... the winter might be a bit rough. Percival would like the militia close at hand so that the intake is safer if anything happens, and so that if anything comes up that they can be commanded more easily."Ryou smiles slightly as he continues. "Of course, while this is a command, it only applies to members of the militia. If for some reason someone needed to take a leave of absence, or had handed in a resignation, then they wouldn't need to follow it." Ryou coughs and turns away, loudly 'muttering' the next statement. "And if anyone did happen to resign, then there might be some openings in the spring. Don't think the village head would scale down the militia after putting so much effort into it."After saying that Ryou coughs a few times and turns around. "Sorry, had to clear my throat. Anyways, that's how things are. Orders are to start moving in a couple of days. If you have questions, I'll be around." With that said Ryou heads out into the snowy training field, leaving you all to your own devices. Everyone just blankly glances at each other for a second.>There's no way you're going along with this. Percival is acting oddly and if you're staying at the intake you'll have to follow whatever orders he dictates. Even if for some reason you're not able to get your job back in the spring it won't matter too much - you have the sect examination then.>Orders are orders you guess. If something does happen during the winter then you and Nui won't be at risk at the intake... although you will have to listen to whatever Percival says if you're staying under his roof.>Write-In
>>5619822>Orders are orders you guess. If something does happen during the winter then you and Nui won't be at risk at the intake... although you will have to listen to whatever Percival says if you're staying under his roof.
>>5619822>There's no way you're going along with this. Percival is acting oddly and if you're staying at the intake you'll have to follow whatever orders he dictates. Even if for some reason you're not able to get your job back in the spring it won't matter too much - you have the sect examination then.Play it off like we're worried about our mom getting mixed up in... whatever. More than a little worried about the Agricultural district/random village mob sieging the intake, with our mom in it. Counterpoint concern is what sort of employment can we find during the rest of winter? How are our savings looking? What sort of situation is mom going to be in if/when we join the sect?
>>5619822>>There's no way you're going along with this. Percival is acting oddly and if you're staying at the intake you'll have to follow whatever orders he dictates. Even if for some reason you're not able to get your job back in the spring it won't matter too much - you have the sect examination then.
>>5619822>Write-In ask if we do get compensated for our full time stay?if not>There's no waywe do have the savings to just up and do nothing for the winter + we can concentrate fully on cultivating + we can gather some more wisdom from huo mi
>>5619822>There's no way you're going along with this. Percival is acting oddly and if you're staying at the intake you'll have to follow whatever orders he dictates. Even if for some reason you're not able to get your job back in the spring it won't matter too much - you have the sect examination then.Worst case scenario we can just earn money doing grunt work, it's not like we lack physical strength
>>5619822I support this >>5620036I'm a supporter of percival, but we have other shit we can be doing.
>>5620036>>5620180>Write-In ask if we do get compensated for our full time stay?You will be paid your normal wages if you choose to accept.
>>5619877.>How are our savings lookingCheck the end of the last thread and you'll have a somewhat up-to-date amount, although it will probably be down a little after food price increases and small bribes used to get past the purchase limits.>What sort of situation is mom going to be in if/when we join the sect?Very much depends on what you decide to do if you get accepted into the sect. You could try to find a way to earn and send back money quickly, you could try seeing if Char's family would be willing to let her stay with them, if you didn't have any savings and didn't want either of those things then it would be possible to sell the house and find a place to rent.
>>5619847 >>5619877 >>5619919 >>5620036>>5620041 >>5620180I guess I should hold a vote on this before I write up the update, or else it's going to be pretty short.What are you going to do regarding work after (temporarily, at least) leaving the militia.>Don't look for anything for the time being. You have some money saved and the sect examination isn't too far off. You'll just focus on improving yourself for now.>Don't look for a proper job, but find odd jobs. Work Huo Mi might need done, basic wood-working and carpentry, moving stuff, anything that someone's willing to pay you for. You'd appreciate more time to yourself for the time being, but you should bring some money in.>Try to find manual labor. Hunting, guarding, whatever you'll be offered. The fact that you've passed through the martial gate at least should be known to Kanekatsu, so there's no need to hide that much.>See if anyone needs an extra bookkeeper. Whether it's mathematics, reading, or writing, you're well-versed in all of them. Surely someone has a position open for the literate.>Head over to Prosperity and see if they need an extra guardsman. You're qualified, at least.>Write-In
>>5620674>Don't look for anything for the time being. You have some money saved and the sect examination isn't too far off. You'll just focus on improving yourself for now.>Don't look for a proper job, but find odd jobs. Work Huo Mi might need done, basic wood-working and carpentry, moving stuff, anything that someone's willing to pay you for. You'd appreciate more time to yourself for the time being, but you should bring some money in.Either of these twos. If we are not going after the money, then go after the levels
>>5620674>Don't look for a proper job, but find odd jobs. Work Huo Mi might need done, basic wood-working and carpentry, moving stuff, anything that someone's willing to pay you for. You'd appreciate more time to yourself for the time being, but you should bring some money in.Don't get too entangled at the moment, but keep the finances stable.>Head over to Prosperity and see if they need an extra guardsman. You're qualified, at least.Ahahaha this would be hilarious though. Probably a shitstorm, but hilarious.
>>5620674>Don't look for a proper job, but find odd jobs. Work Huo Mi might need done, basic wood-working and carpentry, moving stuff, anything that someone's willing to pay you for. You'd appreciate more time to yourself for the time being, but you should bring some money in.
>>5620677 >>5620696 >>5620968 >>5621033 >>5620036 >>5620180You don't want to get wrapped up in Percival and the intake's issues. The position pays well, yes, but it's not worth being strapped to his boat. You'll quit and take your chances for the next few months. There's money saved up and you're sure you can find other work in the meantime.Ryou takes a while to come back to the lodge. When he does you're the first to make your intent to quit clear. To your surprise, Ryou seems almost relieved upon hearing that. He gives you a pat on the shoulder and a thumbs-up. "That's for the best. The guard's not the kind of thing for a kid. Good luck finding something else and I'll see you around. Maybe we can go hunting once the damned snow clears up."By the time the snow clears up completely you might have left Fogtop already, but that's not the kind of thing you need to announce.「Thank you. That'd be nice, if we get the chance.」You step away and collect your things. From behind you can hear vice-captain Han's unenthusiastic manner of speech."Well, I'll be leaving too then. See you later, captain." He goes to collect his things as well, and the two of you end up leaving the intake at around the same time. No one else leaves with you. Han glances at you, hesitating for a moment before making small talk."Thought there'd be more who would bail, but I guess they don't have the freedom. Gotta do what you gotta do." Han yawns slightly. "I'd guess one or two more will be joining us before too long though." He pauses for a moment, muttering to himself. "Although now that I think about it Jack beat us to quitting..."Han trails off before turning his focus towards you. "So, got any plans now that you've quit?" You shrug.「Not really. My last job was bookkeeping for the intake, and I'm not sure if it'd be the best idea to go back after this. I'll just do odd jobs for the winter and figure it out after that...」Han nods a couple of times before speaking. "Maybe I should do that myself. There's not too much work in the winter." The two of you walk in silence for a bit, heading towards a dirt path nearby. As it nears, he speaks once more. "Well, it wasn't for too long, but I was your boss or superior or whatever. Or at least I was supposed to be. Now that we're both out of a job, hit me up if you need anything." Han chuckles to himself. "Add Jack in and we have quite the motley crew, if we need it."You're not too close, but you appreciate the sentiment. You thank him before the two of you split up, heading your separate ways towards home. When you arrive Nui seems worried, as if she's still remembering the last time you came home early from work. ...You never brought it up so she's refrained from doing so as well, but it's clear she knows about the raid.
>>5623060「I'm home.」"Welcome back. Did anything happen?" You search for the words for a moment before settling on some simple ones.「I quit.」Nui lets out a sigh of relief. "It's probably for the best. Being part of the militia is dangerous, after all..." She goes on. You lightly nod, not really focusing on what she's saying.Nui doesn't ask you about what you plan to do for work that day. In fact, without you bringing it up, she seems like the type who would rather sell the house before she mentioned you finding work. Regardless of who brought in more money she is the parent after all, and feels a responsibility to provide. Still, you should do something to stem the bleed of funds, and the next morning you head to Huo Mi's not long after dawn.Huo Mi yawns as she stares at you. "Well aren't you up bright and early. Something happen?"「I quit the militia.」Huo Mi raises an eyebrow and pauses for a moment. "Huh. Now you've got me interested in whatever Percival did to cause that." Before you can respond she steps back and gestures for you to come in. "Let's not talk in the doorway. It's cold out."You explain the situation to Huo Mi while she remains silent, making herself breakfast. Once you're done she speaks up. "So. You regret it?" Huo Mi stokes the hearth's fire and clarifies. "Quitting, I mean." You take a moment and then shrug.「Should I?」In response to that Huo Mi laughs. "There's no should or shouldn't. Do you or don't you?" You think about it and then shake your head.「Not really. I have enough money to survive in the meantime, so...」Huo Mi returns to the table with a bowl of porridge in hand. "Might not be that easy, but as long as you don't regret it, then it's good. Doing whatever Percival says might be easy, might be safe, but..." She trails off. "Well, I wouldn't do it, personally. I don't like others deciding things for me.""So, you come for work or for training?"「Both, ideally.」Huo Mi eats for a bit before speaking further. "That's the case, then I can get you some stuff to do over here. It's gonna be quiet this winter and the forest is looking rough, but you're not useless. I can think of work for you. Besides that I have a friend who's a hunter - you met him after the election of the village head, I think. Since you're at the 2nd Tempering, even if you're a little young, I think you just meet the bar to help him."She eats another spoonful of porridge before providing more information. "Of course, whether he'll have work this winter is another thing - the weather's rougher than most years. But I'll keep an ear open and tell you if he does. He's an old friend so you wouldn't need to worry about him telling anyone else about your current cultivation, but if you turned it down because of that I wouldn't blame you."
>>5623075Huo Mi stands up with a slight grunt. "Anyways, besides that you can just look on your own, and the best of luck. Now, I hope you weren't hoping to take it easy today, because I have some work for you." She turns back with a grin while washing her bowl.You are aching and tired by the time you go back that day. You curse whatever divine providence resulted in a plant that only blooms in deep snow and whatever whims of Huo Mi forced you to go digging for it.Time goes by quickly. You help out Huo Mi, find a few bits of manual labor that you can get paid for helping with, and train at her and Char's places. It's been a bit over a week since you and Han left the guard and right now you're preparing to help out one of the local stores with unloading a shipment from the intake. An hour or two of work and you get paid immediately after it's done. Could pay better, but a good deal overall.It's not long before a large cart arrives in front of the store, pulled by two horses. A rather difficult task due to the weather, even with the way between the village center and the intake shoveled as best as it can be. A few men disembark from the cart as it stops: the driver and two loaders. Their faces are all familiar, although the only one you can put a name to is one of the loaders, Du.Everyone greets each other and then gets to unloading without much delay, just wanting to get things over with. This goes on without interruption for a while, but then you hear something. The sound of a great many footsteps approaching. You glance in the direction it's coming from, only to see a large group of men approaching.At the head of the group is a familiar face. The village head of Prosperity, Mei Gi. Behind him are many well-built men, most visibly armed. Their guardsmen, perhaps? Before long everyone else has noticed them too. The driver of the carriage and the shopkeep glance at each other and then anxiously mutter between themselves, as if deciding what to do. Mei Gi's group has nearly arrived in front of all of you by the time they come to a conclusion."Come on, grab whatever you're carrying and get out of the way. We don't want to inconvenience anyone." Everyone moves out of the road, taking whatever they're carrying with them. Then you all just stand there, watching the group move past. A few of them glance at you, but beyond that they don't seem to be particularly interested.
>>5623081The loader whose name you don't know mutters to himself. "Wonder what they're up to." Du frowns. "Can't be anything good." You pick up a smell from the passing group and end up chiming in.「Not sure what is is, but I can smell manure. They're probably not happy.」The other loader curls his nose and takes a couple large sniffs in. "I think you're right. Ugh."You glance around, only to find an intensely distressed Du. It seems that the mentions of manure have made him imagine a most terrible future. You do your best to cheer him up.「Well, uh, it might not be worth worrying about. They work in the fields, so they probably always smell like that.」Du's mood lightens a bit. The other loader adds to your statement in a bid to reassure him. "That's right. And even if they are carrying it, I'm sure they won't make you clean it up again. I mean, after you already did it so many times? It's someone else's turn, I'm sure."Du just stares at the other man for a second before sighing and shaking his head. By then, the group has passed the all of you, heading down the main road. Based on their direction, you'd guess they're heading towards the intake. Unless they all just happen to have a sudden desire to stop by the village tavern, you guess.>Suggest heading off after them. Strictly speaking it's none of your business, but, uh, you're interested in what's about to happen.>Speed up your loading. This is none of your business and you have better things to do than to rubberneck.>Write-In
>>5623084>Speed up your loading. This is none of your business and you have better things to do than to rubberneck.This sounds like a lovely day to get paid and gawk later after the messy violence has settled down.
>>5623084>Speed up the loadingLets fuckin' not
>>5623084>Speed up your loading. This is none of your business and you have better things to do than to rubberneck.It's no longer our problemI think working with the hunter would be good, it probably would help with training as well as work.
>>5623084>Speed up your loading. This is none of your business and you have better things to do than to rubberneck.
>>5623103 >>5623161 >>5623167 >>5623187 >>5623749You'd be lying if you said you weren't interested, but you know what they say: Curiosity killed the cat. There's no need for you to get involved in the village heads' squabbles just to stay up to date on the latest going-ons. You'll finish this up fast, get back home, and then ask around about what happened next time you're in town. Shouldn't be hard to find out then. For the better or worse there's not much else to do around here than talk, so news spreads fast. 「Let's hurry up.」You firm up your hold on the box you're carrying and walk into the store. That seems to help bring everyone's focus back onto the task at hand and after a few more seconds they stop staring at Prosperity's group, who are now fading into the distance, and start moving again.The group from Prosperity don't reappear by the time the lot of you finish up your work, meaning that whatever they're up to is taking a while. Talking, hopefully - you doubt either of them wants to get into a fight. But whatever it is, it's not your (immediate) problem. You'll leave it up to those in charge to figure out. For now, you need to get back home, grab lunch, and then head over to Huo Mi's for the day.When you arrive at Huo Mi's an odd sight awaits you. Several familiar pieces of carpentry equipment can be seen in the front yard, with sawdust and chips of wood coating the otherwise white snow. You give the items an odd glance before heading inside, where you find Huo Mi reading a book.「You know carpentry?」Huo Mi glances at you and closes the book. "Nope. But I can certainly cut a piece of wood, and that's all I really had to know how to do." Interested peaked, you inquire further.「Why'd you need to do that for? Building equipment?」Huo Mi grins. "Kind of. Follow me outside."In the patch of forest outside of Huo Mi's house a great many slabs of wood hang from the trees, ominously staring down at you. Crudely cut out rectangles with holes in the top to hang them from the lot of them, their purpose unclear. You look at Huo Mi, waiting for her to elaborate."Thought you were getting a little better with the bow, so I rigged this up." She gestures grandly towards the nondescript pieces of wood littering the trees' branches.「Uh... are they targets?」Huo Mi nods. "Of course! What else would they be?!" You, er... well, fair question.「Does this mean I'm past basic training?」You take the laugh you get in response as a 'no'. "Can you shoot 10 accurate shots in a minute?" You think about it and then awkwardly reply.「...No.」"Then you have your answer. This is still just you practicing shooting. Just harder. Now grab your bow, before I find one with a heavier draw weight." You hurry to ready your bow before Huo Mi can make true on her threat.
>>5625965What follows could be described as a valiant effort. It could also be described as a wretched failure. Instead of just telling you when to shoot, Huo Mi now tells you when AND where to shoot, giving you little more than half the time you'd like to line up any given shot. Shots hit trees, fly wide, and occasionally don't fly at all, falling from your hand as you hurriedly try to change where you're aiming. Now it's not just your arms that are exhausted, but your mind as well."Horrible. But we'll try again tomorrow. Take a break." You nod and slowly walk into Huo Mi's house, arms hanging at your side. As you do, she throws in one more remark. "Oh. And stay away from the rabbit's part of the forest. It, uh-" She pauses, as if to find the right choice of words, before using what is most decidedly not that choice. "Well, he got another one. With the limits on food purchases there's been more amateur hunting than usual this year, and someone else stumbled into its territory. Dunno if the thing is still mad from before or if he did something new to piss it off, but, well-" She makes a throat-slitting gesture."So don't go where it lives, ok?" You nod your head. It's unlikely you'd run into the thing again, but better safe than sorry.A couple days have passed since you saw Prosperity's group march through town. You're no better at the new training the third time than the first, which is to be expected. Maybe once you get to 30th try you'll see some improvement. Right now you're stopping into town to pick up some groceries. As you walk into your usual store, you see what looks like a guard standing by the door. You glance at him and head inside, to make your usual purchase.You frown as you look at the prices. Up again, and by more than usual. Nothing for it, you guess - that's winter. You put together everything you intend to buy and bring it up to the counter. Upon seeing your load the shopkeep scratches his head awkwardly. "Sorry but, uh, you've got too much." You're aware of that. You point towards the money you left on the counter again - it has the usual bribe. The shopkeeper ignores you, as if he didn't see it. Then, after a moment, he leans in."Did you not hear?" You frown.「Hear what? Is it something to do with Prosperity?」The shopkeeper nods slightly. "Yes. There was an incident a couple of days ago. Mei Gi went to take their harvest back." You raise an eyebrow.「Take it back? Didn't they already trade it?」The shopkeeper lets out a sigh. "Yes, but they were really just leaving it in the village head's custody. He would trade it via the intake, and then they had some agreement on how to split the goods received from the harvest. That was the plan at least, but apparently due to all the snow, it didn't all get traded in time. Apparently Mei Gi got frustrated and just went to take the rest of it back."
>>5625970Your frown is deeper now.「...And why does this mean I can't...」Your whisper drops lower as you glance around one more time.「...bribe you like usual?」"The village head is paying more attention to the purchasing rules now. I'm really not supposed to be breaking them now..."...Does that mean he WAS supposed to be breaking them before? Or is that just how he describes any rule not being enforced? Well, whatever - that's not important. What is important is that you're only allowed to purchase a maximum of two weeks of food at a time. This wouldn't inherently be a problem... but you're a cultivator. Since your last breakthrough you've ascertained that you definitely eat more than the average person and that it's not just your imagination. You won't starve if you don't find a way around the restriction, but you'll definitely be hungry. And constant hunger means a lack of a energy, which will definitely put a wrench in your training plans for the winter.>'not supposed to' doesn't mean that he's not willing to. Just find the new bribe that works and then go with that. He's just trying to get more out of you.>Head around to the other shops and see if they're willing to play ball. You need to get food somewhere.>It'll be more effort to get around it than it's worth. You guess you'll just be a bit hungry for now. It's not the end of the world.>There's no need to buy extra food. Why not go hunting instead? The snow makes it harder, but surely you can find something to eat. And as long as you avoid the rabbit's stretch of forest there's not much worth worrying about out there.>See if the man's willing to sell to you in bulk. Food prices might rise more, so maybe it's best to lock in the current price right now and buy as much as possible.>Ask what you need to do to get some extra food. You're literate, were part of the guard, and are more than a little athletic. You don't mind doing some extra work for food.>Write-In
>>5625975>There's no need to buy extra food. Why not go hunting instead? The snow makes it harder, but surely you can find something to eat. And as long as you avoid the rabbit's stretch of forest there's not much worth worrying about out there.
>>5625986Just remember to avoid the rabbit area at all costs
>>5625975>There's no need to buy extra food. Why not go hunting instead? The snow makes it harder, but surely you can find something to eat. And as long as you avoid the rabbit's stretch of forest there's not much worth worrying about out there.Put that improved eyesight to work!
Rolled 64, 84, 12, 21, 52, 24 = 257 (6d100)Well, let's see how the hunting goes.
>>5625986 >>5626053 >>5626336>>5626504Just not eating as much is technically an option, but it isn't a practical one. You can't afford to be constantly operating at half-efficiency, especially during the next few months, when you're preparing for the sect examination. But prices are getting high and bribes even higher. You think for now you'll just have to live with the food purchase limit. Instead of paying your way around it you'll pursue an alternative avenue: the bounty of the wilderness.Well, perhaps 'bounty' is a bit much when the wilderness is currently covered in a thick layer of snow but, well, it's still there. The animals don't all suddenly die during winter after all, even if many do migrate or hibernate. If look hard enough you're sure to find something. Hopefully enough to fill your stomach, if not more.Before you put your plan into action you consult with Huo Mi, wondering if she has any sage pieces of wisdom for you. In fact, she does. You are provided with three valuable pieces of guidance to go off of:1. Don't get lost.2. Don't freeze to death.3. Don't go near that damned rabbit.None of it's quite new information but, well, it's worth keeping in mind. With those three statements occasionally repeating through your head you begin you first morning of hunting. You hunt for around half the day, searching through the forest around an hour from your home. By the afternoon you've managed to bag several pieces of small game. A nice haul, and one that makes up for the trouble you went through.With your first day of success as a motivator you go at it a bit longer the next day. And oh boy does it pay off. You don't get much in terms of small game, but you do manage to track a deer through the snow! When you reach it in the afternoon you find it sleeping and manage to take it down with little trouble. It's a sizable catch, and one that's sure to make its way into many of your meals to come. As you take it back you're glad about the low temperatures for once - instead of curing it all immediately you can leave it outside for now, where it'll remain frozen. That's better for both your coin pouch and your taste buds, which can taste the overly generous salting of cured meat better than ever now.The morning after you catch the deer you stop by Char's to train with him for a bit. While there you tell him about your great catch from the day before. Naturally he's a little jealous and a little excited, leading him to suggest that you both go hunting together... even though he can't use a bow. You point this out but Char's not one to be deterred, insisting that a knife will be more than good enough. You disagree with that assertion but aren't particuarly opposed to having him tag along with you, so you give in without too much convincing. Char's father takes even less effort to convince, having long since learned that his son will not take no for an answer and immediately giving his permission.
>>5627717Unfortunately for the two of you it starts snowing not long after you set out. It's not enough to worry about another snowstorm, but it is enough to cover up the footsteps of anything and everything, yourselves included. Unable to track any prey and afraid of getting lost if your footsteps get covered, the two of you quickly head back.Char doesn't accompany you the next day which is probably for the best, as it's quite the failure. Hours spent wandering about and only a couple of birds to show for it. Edible, but not too much on them. After that you don't go hunting the next day, having a job in town and some other things to take care of. Perhaps that resets your bad luck as the next day you do decently for yourself, finding some good forage and taking down a particularly plump pheasant.Today your luck hasn't been too good. You've gone out farther than normal but still haven't seen much. Hopefully just bad luck and not a lack of animals. As you're wondering about your next move, you feel something fall on your shoulder. You glance up only to see snowflakes starting to pour down. Emperor's curse, you were hoping to go for longer. You guess you should be getting back. You stand up from your log seat and dust yourself off, preparing to return home.Before you can return home though, the snow intensifies. Not enough to worry you much, but certainly enough to annoy you. You speed up as you make your way home and perhaps get just a little off route in the process. Once you manage to notice that you get worried, but that worry doesn't last for too long, as you can make out what looks like an abandoned cabin in the distance. At the very least, that should mean you're heading back towards the village, right?As the cabin approaches you slow down. You don't want to dawdle too long before you head home but you're cold, rather tired, and would like to figure out where exactly you are again. A short break should be in order. You approach the cabin, which has clearly seen better days, and gingerly push on the door. It swings open without resistance and you walk inside.You can hear something bang against wood as you step inside. You turn towards the source only to find a gaunt-looking man staring up at you while lying on the ground, covered up in a blanket. He's dressed well but his clothes are dirty and his hair untrimmed, as if he's been out here for a while."「Sorry, is this your cabin?」" You both speak at the same time before catching yourselves, having accidentally answered the other's question. It's not his cabin then... then maybe he's hunting and temporarily decided to camp here? Or maybe he got lost?
>>5627719As you mull over who he could be, you suddenly find something about him familiar. You think you recognize him. That would mean you've probably interacted with him before, maybe a few times. He's dressed well, so one of the merchants maybe? Did anyone lose a bookkeeper? Hmmm...Or...wait...no, no, you do recognize him, but he's not a villager.He's one of the members of the caravan that got raided. You recognize him because you've played poker together - he was that merchant who accepted Kain's invitation, only to be roped into... well, whatever that was.As you come to this realization you focus your attention back on him. He's still lying there, staring at you. You don't know if he's recognized you or not yet.>Introduce yourself and ask about the caravan. Clearly this man isn't a threat if he's been hiding out here for weeks. Everything that happened felt weird and you want to know more. [If you have any particular questions, mention them.]>Introduce yourself and ask if he's alright. He can't be doing well out here on his own.>Apologize for your intrusion and leave. You don't want to get involved in this anymore. You quit the militia.>Apologize for your intrusion and leave. Apparently the fleeting rumors about an escapee from that caravan were true. You'd definitely get rewarded if you told Percival where he was hiding, right?>Unsheathe your bow and point it at him. You have some questions and you're not taking chances. [If you have any particular questions, mention them.]>Unsheathe your bow and point it at him. There were smugglers among the caravan and he could be one. You need to bring him back to the village to be arrested, for the entire village's safety.>Unsheathe your bow and point it at him. He's the only member of his caravan left at this point, and you're sure Percival would reward you if you were to bring him back.>Write-In
>>5627720>Introduce yourself and ask if he's alright. He can't be doing well out here on his own.
>>5627720>Ask if he's alrightMercy was never a bad virtue.
>>5627803 >>5627818 >>5627834 >>5627946 >>5628924Whether this man was somehow involved in smuggling or not he's clearly not some sort of major threat - he's just trying to survive. You should lend a hand, if able.「I'm Tetsuya Kinzou. We met at Kain's, in that poker game. I used to be a member of the militia, but I quit.」A flash of recognition passes through the man's eyes. He stays silent for a couple of seconds before grunting and standing up. It takes a moment for him to do so, and he seems lacking in energy. Once he manages to get on his feet he speaks."Zhang Shou. I'm a merchant under Qi Ku and his head bookkeeper for the time being." He pauses. "Er, was, I guess. It's good to become acquainted." He extends a hand, which you shake. After that he just stands there, waiting for you to continue.「Are you, uh, alright?」He thinks about it for a moment before chuckling. "Do you want the polite answer or the correct answer?" He doesn't want for a reply. "No, I'm not doing too well myself. A bit hungry, and tired, and dirty. I'm not dead yet though, so-" He shrugs. "Could be worse."You poke your head outside to make sure the weather's not getting worse. It isn't. Since you don't immediately need what food you have on you you'll lend him a hand.「I was out hunting and while it hasn't gone too well today I do have some food on me. It's yours, if you want it.」You hear him gulp down saliva. "I'll have to accept."The cabin is in a bit of disrepair but fortunately the central fireplace is in good condition. You pop out behind the cabin to grab some firewood that's already been cut up and bring it back in. You take a bit to start a fire before removing all the food on you from your bag. Some nuts and berries, a couple of squirrels, and some bread you brought from home, your lunch already torn out of it.「I'll clean the squirrels and cook the meat. Help yourself.」The man thanks you and begins eating. He only eats the berries before pausing and putting the rest to the side. You hear him mutter "Shouldn't eat it all at once." before he turns his attention back to you."Thanks. I still have a little bit of food left, but not much." You make small-talk while preparing to roast the squirrel.「You escape with it? Or foraging?」There's a noticeable pause before he answers. "I didn't get away with much. Probably why I escaped, I guess. Some of it's from forage, some of it's what I brought, some was what was already here. I took a little bit from a nearby house when no one was around. A couple of essentials too, like this blanket. Wanted to leave money but I'm not sure how much chartering a ride out of here will cost me." Zhang sighs after saying that.
>>5629279An awkward silence falls over the two of you, only broken by the crackling of the fire and breathing. Zhang takes the opportunity to ask you something, sounding nervous. "How is everyone else holding up? Is the investigation over with?" You pause what you're doing and mull over how to answer. He doesn't know that the rest of his caravan is dead yet. This, uh...You should just tell the truth, you suppose.「Well, what I heard was, um...」You push through your hesitation.「...they said there was an attempt at a jailbreak.」"Jailbreak?"「Yeah. They say that the prisoners had a few talismans hidden on their body and used them to try to break a way out of the building they were held in. Then it went up in flames instead and... there are no survivors.」From behind you can hear something heavy thud against the wood. When you glance back, you see that Zhang has fallen to the floor and is staring at nothing in particular. You decide to leave him alone as you finish cooking. Nothing you say is going to be of much help here.「It's done.」You place down several cuts of squirrel, skewered on sticks. Zhang blankly stares at you before nodding and taking one without a word. He finally speaks again after taking a few bites."None of this makes sense. I've worked with Ku for years. One of his brothers is associated with a rebel movement, but they're on horrible terms for that very reason. He would never trade anything to them, let alone weapons." He takes another bite. "Not that he has access to anything like that anyways. We trade in everyday goods and city 'luxuries', not in cultivation materials."「What if it was done under his nose?」Zhang seems to think about it for a moment before he shakes his head. "Doubt it. Even if he didn't catch them, why choose to go under the caravan of someone who would be diametrically opposed to what they're doing? Can't see why they wouldn't just set up a small caravan themselves. The more I think about it the less sense it makes."Zhang's tone gets more confused and bitter as he stares at the second piece of squirrel, not eating. "I don't see any other reason why your ass of a village head would want to pick a fight with us though. All we had were a few higher-end items from the city and a lot of everyday goods that we were planning to sell off when we got back. Surely he's not so miserly and mad as to value them over dozens of lives."He sits there a for a few seconds before grabbing the second piece of squirrel and stepping outside. "Thank you for the help. I'll keep this in the snow, so it stays good." You hear him muttering to himself again. "Sure is one hell of a honeymoon."
>>5629284You glance outside and find that the snowfall has gotten lighter. You guess it's time to go.>「You're welcome. Good luck.」>「You're welcome. I'll stop by again, if I get the chance.」Life is rough. You'll try and drop off spare game, if you have any.>「You're welcome. You need anything else?」This guy isn't going to make it through the winter on his own. Least you can do is lend a hand. Maybe some of Takigi's old winter clothes, assuming they fit.>「You're welcome. Want to come back with me?」This guy got fucked and he's not going to make it if you just leave him here. It's probably not in your best interest, but perhaps Nui would let him stay with you guys? It's not like you get visitors, so he'd be able to fly under the radar, at least.>「You're welcome. I'll be back soon. Need to check on some stuff first.」You're not really in a position where you can help the guy out, but maybe someone else is willing to? Huo Mi doesn't live near anyone else, and you doubt she'll be struggling for food or anything. Or maybe Char's family - they live near the center of the village, but their house is more than big enough to hide someone.>Write-In
Oh yeah, new thread after this vote. Thanks for reading, and if this ends up dropping off the board before the new thread is made, whoops.
>>5629286>「You're welcome. I'll be back soon. Need to check on some stuff first.」You're not really in a position where you can help the guy out, but maybe someone else is willing to? Huo Mi doesn't live near anyone else, and you doubt she'll be struggling for food or anything. Or maybe Char's family - they live near the center of the village, but their house is more than big enough to hide someone.Let's get some wisdom from Huo Mi. I'm not opposed to dropping off some spare game and old clothes from time to time, and I suspect Huo Mi might have an interest in this man.
>>5629286>Your welcome, I'll be back soon.Yeah, I do want to leave him food and clothing because it's the right thing to do. Despite our paranoia and our escalationism, we're still a mostly decent person.
>>5629286>「You're welcome. I'll be back soon. Need to check on some stuff first.」You're not really in a position where you can help the guy out, but maybe someone else is willing to? Huo Mi doesn't live near anyone else, and you doubt she'll be struggling for food or anything. Or maybe Char's family - they live near the center of the village, but their house is more than big enough to hide someone.
>if this ends up dropping off the board before the new thread is made, whoops.Yeah, I'm gonna be out of town for a couple of days so it looks like that will be the case. Boring stuff aside I'll try to post it on Monday if I can, I won't know until Monday, if not Tuesday.