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/qst/ - Quests

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Welcome back, friends, for the end of our group's well-earned vacation.

Previous Threads

Twitter for schedule updates

I'll update our sheets for Act 3, so they aren't needed here. I'm not planning any violent confrontations, so there's no need to remember your catalog of bonuses and spells.
The constant droning of rain quietly filtered into the ritual chamber. The dreary atmosphere of the stormy weather and the diminished light of torches almost planted a seed of dread in your heart, for it cast a perfect atmosphere for nefarious magic. You and Hao stood in the middle of a large circle of power sourced by the sky. The elemental lady Undyne was finishing the ritual by using her natural magical capabilities to move the water trickling down from the roof through carefully built drains.

There wasn't enough light for you to identify the symbol. A circle into an octagon with three deeper lines crossing the middle... you'd need a higher perch for a good look. The water was also changing colors, producing a familiar rainbow effect that brought a painful reminder of your faithful Zhu. Unfortunately, the phenomenon didn't glow. These lines probably formed into a dwarven rune, one of the few things capable of putting permanency into spells.

That alone won't be enough to help you and Hao.

''Feeling okay?'' Teruko asked gently, nervously rolling a few strands of white hairs around a finger.

''Yeah, wish Shereen could be here.'' You answered after Hao gave a silent nod.

''She and the good princess of Krezenz have done their parts in healing you. I hope they will find it okay to regain a proper sleep schedule.'' Kendal spoke gently, knowing exactly how much strength he needed to put in his voice to avoid echoes. ''Despite your diminished pain, we cannot risk using your magical nature. Your consumption of Everblues made your soul more malleable; its imprint on reality has diminished. There is a chance Focus will undo that.''

''Water can also help dwindle reality hold.'' Tomiko, Keldan's granddaughter (and the crow lady who first healed Hao's soul), began speaking. ''More importantly, it is the element with the closest ties to life and souls. We had to labor hard for a solution before this storm while powering our sleeping rune, or else you and poor Hao would likely have suffered for weeks until we could predict the next one. This room was built after the Great Crusade by dwarves. Our clan leader at that time managed to get in good graces with the stout folks, who imbued this room with a rune of eternity.''

''Your souls have become much easier to mold now. This timing will allow our changes to take hold... We're fooling the world into accepting your cure; quite exciting, isn't it?'' If the old raven-winged man were faking his excitement, he'd be an excellent actor.

''Gotta admit that's not how I expected a medical treatment to work.'' Elina commented, trying her best to keep the movement of her wings in check to avoid disturbing the elemental woman.
The Undyne had changed from the pretty, haughty lady that became the center of attention yesterday evening. Tendrils erupted from her arms, back, and legs while numerous eyes morphed into her malleable skin to observe whatever she found pertinent. Her body was drained of all colors but blue of various tints. She ignored the conversation, concentrating entirely on drawing water into her body and transferring it into the rune, slowly increasing the pretty luminescence in the room as the flow occupied the thick dry lines in the stone.

Elemental monsters are fascinating.

''Can you translate what I'll be saying, Teruko?'' The severe one-armed lizard lady frowned when Ama began speaking but nodded. ''It's time to lay out our labor.'' The little witch announced, causing a collective spark of dread inside your linked group.

''We've only got two solutions. A long-term cure for Hao Whitening could have been possible had... -that- not happened, but we've got to deal with reality.'' Ama spoke slowly, always waiting for Teruko's translation to ensure Hao fully understood the situation.

''First would be to redo and reinforce the ritual Tomiko did to rejuvenate Hao's soul by strengthening your links. Arawn won't be the sole influence in keeping the holes in her soul anymore. Your collective vitality will naturally heal and dispel the Whitening, but it does come with several hypothetical side effects and worries.''

''I've discovered that my predecessors did similar treatments for people considered lost causes in the past,'' Keldan commented, pinching his thin beard. ''None of them succeeded long term. Two linked human couples receiving this ritual suffered a complete Whitening two decades after their treatments. As chieftain of my soul healer clan, I cannot guarantee that you wouldn't suffer a similar fate.''

''We're not going blind into this, trust me. Ten doctors were debating and researching the potential side effects.'' Tomiko added her confidence projected some arrogance, but perhaps nervousness skewed your perception.

''What -is- certain is the strengthening of your soul links.'' Ama's changed body robbed her of her witchery gravitas when she tried to appear important. ''You've all had your link long enough to imagine what this means; everything your link can do will be reinforced. Telepathy in combat, Arawn might be able to cast his magic through one of you...''

''Meaning we'll have one hell of a coordination, huh?'' Elina commented, full of smug satisfaction.

''Indeed, I'll talk about the complications because this is what you all need to think about.'' Ama cleared her throat and refreshed it with the small gourd she had brought.
''Everything you know about a link will be strengthened. If one of you were to die, Arawn wouldn't be the only one affected. He might not be the nexus of your feelings anymore; Klesiah -as a human- might become another spreader of emotions. Elina's angelic existence could also cause unusual illness and feeblemindedness if one of you suffers a bout of terrible sadness... There are too many ifs to list. You're all getting the picture, right?'' She waited for everyone to nod. ''Good, because I need to mention something even more important.''

''Long terms, you'll likely find it difficult to hold onto your identities.'' She waited for Teruko to translate that sentence correctly. ''Little harmless things like, for example, food taste being shared after a particularly intense emotional outburst could become the first symptom. You guys could suddenly share Klesiah's love of vanilla if she has an intense argument with Arawn or perhaps her taste in blue clothes... After enough time, mistaking each other's memories is highly probable. That is if you don't suffer the fates of the patients Keldan mentioned.''

You and the girls shared an uneasy silence.

''Arawn and Hao troubled minds make them especially vulnerable. Arawn memories aren't one continuous line because of his amnesia, and the Whitening has eroded most details in Hao's general recollections. Old childhood memories could easily become ''absorbed'' into your collective souls, then things like tastes or interests... if you guys aren't careful, your identities will likely blur and merge into a single distorted whole. Imagine a beautiful portrait vandalized into a mess of colors... then likely completely eroded into nothingness by a bout of Whitening. All of you risk having no identities in twenty years.''

The little witch stopped; the intensity of her gaze was one you'd grown far too familiar with. Despite her diminutive appearance, she still possessed sparks of the theatrical charisma you've grown familiar with.

''I think it's worth a shot.'' The confidence in Klesiah's honest words surprised you. ''People's natural difference is what prevents links from swallowing our minds, right? I'm a simple woman. We all know Arawn's elven heritage is but the tip of a mountain of oddities'' She winks at you. ''Elina is an angel, Sieglinde is a demoness, Hao is a normal Mamono of a completely different race... I don't think it'll be -that- hard to keep our identities. At least we all know there's only one in our links with meat between his legs!''

''I don't think we are fated to a normal life... Arawn and Shereen's magic should give us a way to cope with this increased intensity. They have extremely compatible natures, right?'' She fidgeted her hands together nervously. Her cheerfulness blossomed a spark of excitement in your chest. ''There's also Mina who can keep watching over my soul, and if Arawn can rejoin with Gardy... We'll have another guardian of our collective sanity.''
''I'll admit to being hesitant,'' Sieglinde commented, her thick, deadly tail almost curled into a spiral. ''I want to embrace your optimism; having more eyes on our souls will be a boon. Privacy is overrated anyway.''

''You always want us all in the same bed.'' A teasing grin rested on Elina's fair face when Sieglinde glared at her. ''I can only applaud your consistency, princess.''

''Is that so?'' Keldan commented, pinching his thin beard with a teasing grin.

''My sleeping... patterns are irrelevant!''

Despite the girls slowly but surely kindling hope into their hearts, Hao oozed poignant negativity. Her feelings were too guarded for you to identify accurately. Your tongue remained still as she ashamedly snuck glances your way.

''Wait on your decision. There's another option.'' The lady crow interrupted. ''...one that provoked no end of arguments.''

''Yeah. No gentle way to breach that topic, so...'' Ama sighed, then slipped a pair of black-purple pearls out of the pouch attached to her belt.

''What in all the Red Hell are you doing with that!?'' Elina nearly embraced Focus; her outburst caused a jet of water from a very irritated Undyne to almost splash into her.

''Zerase stash of pearls was far too big for my shard to purify all at once. I missed a few... and Deru agreed to loan them today.''

Sieglinde knew. Her calm demeanor held no surprise and anger, yet her displeased glare made the little blond witch sweat. ''Continue.'' She was careful to hide the venom in her voice, but there was no hiding the sizzling coal emanating into your links.

''I don't need your permission...'' Ama huffed and palmed the pearls to hold them comfortably in her small hand. ''Zerase spell has inflicted you with a nature of death and, because of your Whitening, it snuck into your soul instead of only afflicting your body...Which saved your life. Normally the spells would have rotted your internal organs.'' She says, looking at Hao. ''The constant pain you're feeling and transferring into Arawn is because you've become a surviving paradox, a mixture of life and death dwelling inside a body that cannot contain two aspects of magic.''

''I can change that with these pearls by turning you into a -new- undead.''

Only the constant heated agony pulsing throughout your body stopped the girls from throwing nasty words. Turning Hao into an undead...?

''Undeads are very peculiar entities.'' Keldan sensed the mood and spoke calmly. ''They've always been susceptibles to a Demon Lord's peculiar brand of Corruption, resulting in all kinds of mutations and truly unique -if predatory- survival methods, but few were truly ''dead''. Monsters they've always been, nearly all of them carried a spark of life alongside their affinity for necromancy. Like we carry a primary connection to the Red, theirs is an affinity to a dark, cold forest, another major branch of our World Tree.''
That sounds familiar. Didn't Ama's study have an obscured view of a strange forest? Wasn't it decor?

''Walking skeletons and corpses are considered -true- undeads.'' Tomiko speaks firmly. ''Spirits from the Reds are attracted to abandoned humanoid bodies. After enough time and a large enough congregation of Red entities, they can animate the remains without piercing the veils of dimension. Something like that is not what we want for our patient.''

''We've been using Kreszen princess blood to guide a sizeable amount of entities around this ritual area.'' The crow woman continues. ''Once the rune activates, we'll consume them to help fuel our ritual.''

That is precisely what Zerase attempted, albeit on a much larger scale. No wonder people have been coming and going to bless the forest.

''I can transform you, Hao, into a Revenant.'' Ama pause. ''Does everyone here know what they are?''

''I only know legends.'' Elina hides a bottomless apprehensiveness despite sounding neutral. ''Rare few individuals reviving as spirits of revenge...?'' She glances at Teruko; Hao is listening with her eyes closed.

''Indeed. Revenants are much like you, Elina. Creatures whose intense emotions can affect their biology, living paradoxes tied with necromancy and death instead of Holy protective healing. Using these pearls to turn Hao into one will imprint the concept of ''necromancy'' into her body, thereby fixing the contradiction of Zerase spell, freeing her and Arawn from their pains.''

''Is it that easy?'' You had to voice your skepticism.

''Yes.'' Ama smug confidence tickles your frustration. ''Guess you want an explanation, huh?'' For a moment, the little blonde witch makes a strange gesture as if holding onto something. She catches herself quickly and clears her throat.

''The Corruption of our Demon Lord makes me believe Hao will be fine after this ritual. We all know there's never been anyone before Daiyu who willingly relinquished direct control over this immense force. When granting true sentience to all Monsters, skeleton and walking corpses aside, all Mamonos species settled into natural hybrids forms after the initial chaos of transition.''

''Liches always needed to consume souls. True sentience has liberated their species; their feeding methods used to kill their victims. Today they can take small, insignificant pieces from willing donors without causing harm,'' Kendal added with measured authority.
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''Yes, yes. They already know that.'' Ama quickly interjected. ''Unfortunately, I have nothing concrete to back up this gut feeling of mine. Nobody has seen any Revenants during Daiyu's reign; I've only interacted with two in the distant past. One was like the legends, a spirit of vengeance. The other, though... was a young mother. Her unjust death during an epidemic made her rise again to care for her two young boys. She endured for years, only passing after her sons became men capable of handling themselves.'' Ama paused, arms crossed, blue gaze intensely focused on your dark-scaled lizard-knight. ''That example makes me believe you'd be able to endure this transition and keep your identity, Hao. The only prediction I can make...'' Another pause for Teruko's dutiful translation. ''... Ignoring your ambitions could kill you. You should fixate on some emotional objectives for yourself.''

Despite looking so short and young, this little witch still possessed a fair amount of decorum. The family doctors exchanged glances and nodded, announcing that Ama had fully explained three days of deliberation. Even Teruko's (who needed quite a few refreshments for her voice) usual imposing demeanors had chilled into frustrated indecision.

''We should respect Hao's wish,'' Sieglinde announced.

''But also voice our opinion because her health affects us all.'' Elina countered. ''I think reinforcing our link is better long term; we'll be walking a familiar path.''

''I concur.'' Teruko quickly voiced her opinion, unable to conceal her love and desperation for Hao. Ambrus was right; his wife indeed adopted Hao. ''Do not be forgetting that I am tied with a fairy, yes? Once mine health settles, I'm sure the nature of a fay could be a useful tool to reinforce your collective stability.''

A sudden wave of alarm from Klesiah still your tongue. ''What do you think, Hao?'' Your beloved blueberry ask your second knight. ''Do you need a little more time?''

''No...No more indecision, mine pain, Hao's pain is killing Arawn.'' Her good heart, always so honest and robust, was shrouded by poignant, agonizing guilt. ''There's no way to undo our joining?''

''Absolutely not!'' The white lizard protest was the only loud protest. ''You know what that mean!''

''Hao...'' Sieglinde walked near the gloomy girl. ''...if you cannot choose, then we'll impose our will, and you shall abide.'' Despite her intensity, there was a painful twist in her heart. ''You will obey.''

A spark of defiance lit up inside Hao's guts, and despite her constant radiating pain, she glared at the princess of all demons with renewed spirit.
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Sieglinde's satisfied smile wasn't fake. ''It's impossible to live without hurting the people you love.'' This gentle tone combined with her sincere affection... Siggy doesn't need to act; she -is- an older sister. ''It'll happen sometimes. The best thing we can do now is handle this problem with the solutions we've got. Of course, it's a whole lot of trouble, but family handles problems together, we all care about you, and hell, Arawn love for you is sincere.''

Aw, hell. Having your emotions so easily aired into the open force you to look away. You'll pretend your constant agony is why you're red in the face.

''Wanting to handle your troubles alone is admirable, but this isn't something you can fix by yourself. Letting you die by the wayside like an animal isn't something I'll ever agree to, so you'll have to put up with all of us for the next dozen years, okay? Your good health is ours. And I still want you to show me your Adamant with one of those stones.''

To say negativity had evaporated was an understatement; Hao wasn't the only one stunned.

''That was a prepared speech.''

''Of course.'' Sieglinde turns to you with this mischievous, smug smirk. ''After our meeting yesterday morning... you weren't part of the fun we girls had. I thought about a lot of things before going to bed.''

You have to wonder: how different would your Muribel troubles have turned out if Sieglinde had been with you?

''Okay.'' If Hao weren't in pain, she'd be crying. Her smile remained a beautiful, strained blossom. ''Still guilty, always will, but it will fade with time. Need a minute to think, outside emotions...''

Hao straightened her stance with closed eyes, slowly settling her emotions despite the constant pain radiating into your souls.

''...Revenants.'' Only the quiet silence carried her voice. ''Instincts, no other reason.''

''That same instinct that motivated you to sneak behind Zerase?'' Klesiah asked.

''Something like that.'' The tribal knight answered gently. ''No good solutions. Reinforcement feels dangerous.''

As always, nothing perfect existed. With the storm raging outside, deliberation and debate must wait because this ritual has to be accomplished during the downpour apex.

Right now.
>Reinforcing your links is the best solution. Your magic, experience in souls, reuniting with Gardy, Mother Earth shards, Zipangu debt to you for keeping the Queen-Mother healthy... You have plenty of options to help you learn to handle any complications.

>Revenant. Enough Corruption can transform a human woman into a monster, and the second or third child of a mother often results in a completely different specie. Corruption is a force of chaos and change, reflected in Monster's highly unusual biology. Ama may very well be truthful in calling this...ritual ''natural.''

This decision will significantly impact Hao's future, but we won't see any ramifications in this thread. Even a change in species will take a long while for complications to start showing. I'm leaving this decision open until tomorrow 7pm or so and let it simmer if we're stuck. I'll try a different format for this thread, a little look into how I want to format Act 3. Let's have fun, good folks.

Also, if you guys want a little summary, feel free to ask. It's been a while.
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It's been awhile indeed.

So if I'm getting this right doubling down on the links lights a potential ticking time bomb for everyone while boosting our collective combat ability as a party for around 20 years. Not an insignificant amount of time but our ambitions (individual and collective) will likely require us all to be, well, ourselves past that limit and it's a major "bad end" if the worst happens.

Turning Hao into a revenant is the other choice and it'll keep things largely as they are but what else does it entail? It won't light the fuse on a bomb but what would it mean for Hao? I think we have access to this information given everyone present and it sounds like we're not in a situation where we need to make up our mind in the next minute or two right?
Oh, and what are everyone's votes right now? I'm guessing everyone's waiting on our decision though as this will affect both us and Hao the most.
>it'll keep things largely as they are but what else does it entail? t won't light the fuse on a bomb but what would it mean for Hao? I think we have access to this information given everyone present and it sounds like we're not in a situation where we need to make up our mind in the next minute or two right?

Unfortunately, the little information present is the best you'll get. Ama is the longest-lived person here and hasn't encountered any Revenant during Daiyu's era. turning her into one is untrodden territory. These creatures have been very, very rare; documented history, if any exist, isn't in your location.

Siggy = Links
Elina = Links
Klesiah = Revenant
Hao = Revenant
Everyone else abstains. The doctors don't have enough information to give any suggestions, Ama prefers not to rock the boats of your party and Teruko acknowledges herself as far too biased; she wishes for the reinforcement of the link.
Ama did warn Hao that if she lost "ambition" she'd likely die. This hints that Revenants flat out *need* an overarching goal and once it's accomplished they pass on.

Can Hao still get preggers if she becomes a revenant? I know she really loves us and "having a happy family" is a permanent ambition given our limited immortality. How sold is Hao on going the revenant route by the way? Merely leaning slightly towards it or pretty well convinced it's what she wants?
>Can Hao still get preggers if she becomes a revenant?
Since Gouls and Liches can reproduce, the transition shouldn't affect Hao reproductive capabilities. Sound like I'm trying to wiggle my way out of saying yes.
>How sold is Hao on going the revenant route by the way? Merely leaning slightly towards it or pretty well convinced it's what she wants?
Neither options convince her; going Revenant is her guts feelings, her instincts. Arawn does remember Siggy praising said instincts in the past; otherwise, nobody is iron-clad in their decision.
Well you said we have until tomorrow but the link option sounds like a major double edged sword that starts great at first but goes south as time goes on. Like a poison draught that feeds you your own vitality. Great at first but it's still slowly killing you.

We can change our minds later but for now I think Revenant is the safer option. Plus I'd reckon it'd make Hao very, very hard to actually kill as an individual and that's always good to have around.

Though I think you said previously that this would likely have a negative impact on her long term memory. That still true?
>Though I think you said previously that this would likely have a negative impact on her long term memory. That still true?

The impact already happened because of the Whitening. Hao has trouble recalling most of her childhood memories, especially her mother's face. The Whitening is going to be cured with becoming a Revenant so further degeneration shouldn't happen, although Ama highlighted a potentially big risk with reinforcing your links.

And yeah, I'm leaving things open for tomorrow. Gonna be posting a list of choices afterwards too, for now I want to concentrate on this big one.
Oh, Teruko seems to have mentioned something about undoing a link and how that's apparently a bad idea. What would happen if that occurred? I don't want to go that route but is that an option?
The Whitening will entirely consume Hao because nothing will stop its progress anymore. Fast-acting Alzheimer.
Holy hell that's a bad way to go! Yeah, absolutely not an option.
>Revenant. Enough Corruption can transform a human woman into a monster, and the second or third child of a mother often results in a completely different specie. Corruption is a force of chaos and change, reflected in Monster's highly unusual biology. Ama may very well be truthful in calling this...ritual ''natural.''

I think that the potential fallout from going with the links is far greater in the long term, and is potentially effectively unlimited considering how widely interwoven those directly impacted are into a variety of things. Or would otherwise encourage opponents to simply stall for time or go to ground knowing that without further intervention we're on the clock.

Sure things may change significantly afterwards but it would provide a catalyst to further bind the group together in a way especially if the goal remains either a secret, as to prevent either sandbagging for more time or hyper-focus on attaining it. and its not as if we're breaking completely new ground
I'll leave things open for a while longer. The ritual itself won't be flashy or particularly special, so moving on to other events after our choice might have a better feel.

Here is a non-chronological, non-exhaustive list of events that occur during your stay, all of them of various importance. Doing one can unlock more events of different significance, and I'll eventually add a few more romantic things after we go through the bulks I want. I'm also pointing out the principal actors to avoid confusion. Also, the general length of each moment will vary, of course. Gardy will likely take the most significant chunk of time.

I'm also open to suggestions, of course.

Knowing me, I probably forgot something important I want to put on this list.

>The chapel in the Red (Gardy)
>Sisters reunion. (Shereen, Ensan)
>A new normal. (Banu)
>What is the witch's fate? (Your links, Shereen, Ama, and Kreszenz duo.)
>A proposal. (Anais)
>Justice Man friendly reunion. (Adam.)
>Commander of the flying host. (Shereen, Sieglinde and a new arrival)
>Clerical imposition. (Mattheus, Sieglinde, and a new arrival.)

These events encompass the bulk of the month our crew remains in Machitehew mountaintop.
It case it wasn't clear my vote was for Hao to become a revenant. Hard to kill waifus are best waifus given the shit we've pulled. Also fuck Merlin Nyarlathotep. Gotta kill his ass dead somehow eventually.

I do remember we gotta give Adam that belt back. It was borrowed after all and we ain't the kind of dude who doesn't return what his neighbors lent to him.

Plus I think he's a magitek expert and we're gonna want to try and secure him as a researcher for our plans to get an industrial revolution going. And weapons. The other big thing after we re-fuse with Gardy is restoring Ama to her former power. Specifically regaining access to whatever it was that enabled her to get all that intel she somehow knew but really shouldn't have. That'd help us out big no matter what we do.
Oh, also, the little girl from wherever it was. He brought her here to this country to find a way to get her a new body. Leena I think? How's she doing?
>Also fuck Merlin Nyarlathotep. Gotta kill his ass dead somehow eventually.
I need to invest in a new villain now that Ama is crippled. Remember that he not only infected a child with a soul parasite but is also responsible for Hao Whitening.
>Leena I think? How's she doing?
The event with him will explain his unusual adventure, it was one quest worthy of incarnating ourselves.
2 votes for Revenant.
I think it's a safe lock-in. I'll write a little something that'll segway into the choices I've posted. Our crew vacation has officially begun.
''Can't say I've got any trust in you, Ama.'' Pain, added to your displeasure at your circumstances, makes your voice far harsher than you intended. ''Yet I can't disagree with your logic despite trying to poke holes into it.''

You're no experts on Corruption; that title belongs to Deruella and Sieglinde. With neither of them forcing Ama's pearls out of her hands, your guts mirror Hao's instincts.

''Undead is a slur. They are Mamonos with special needs, that's all. My gut tells me that letting Hao become a Revenant is the best path for her healthy future.''

''There's still some time to debate.'' The elemental lady spoke after the long silence of your declaration. ''This storm is no monsoon, it still has plenty of life.''

''I don't think there's a need.'' Sieglinde's bladed tail audibly raked the stone ground. ''Three against two... I'm starting to shift my opinion anyway. I'm trusting Hao's instincts more than my own.''

''Yeah...'' Elina's red wings flapped, causing a brief dance on the fire of nearby torches.

''In that case, everyone except Arawn, Hao, and me must move out of the circle.'' Ama declared, palming each pearl.

''It's your head if you fuck up.'' Elina's anger manifested in a cold voice.

''Yeah, no pressure.'' Ama muttered back.

''Nobody else can manipulate pearls magic. Shouldn't be too hard; you're used to it.''

''I trust you.''

Somehow, you and Hao felt the same need to cheer up this short, vulnerable little nemesis. Ama looked away sheepishly, grunting a weak-willed ''whatever''.

''Okay, okay. First, you guys need to let the changes take hold. I'm unsure what sensations you'll get, but it shouldn't be painful, just weird. If you're afraid and resist, my spell -and the pearls- will be wasted.''

With two nods in response, Ama mirrored the gesture.

''Your pains will stop after the ritual. The effects of being a Revenant will start manifesting after a while, maybe a month or two. This thing we're doing... well, we know reality is malleable but remains implacable. Hao walked into this temple as a regular lizard Mamonos and walked out a Revenant; she's but one life in the grander schemes and thus insignificant. We're lucky she's not famous; people's perceptions could undo our change.''

''We should reveal her being a Revenant when we start seeing symptoms.''

''Yeah.'' Ama shakes her knuckles at you. ''It's not like we're killing her and rewriting reality. This spell is significant for -us- and that's how it should stay.''

For some reason, a sudden spark of alarm from Sieglinde almost made you turn to look at her.

''Okay, ready. I'll need you to get on one knee Arawn; I can't reach your head.''

There are better times to get distracted. You obey as best you can; bending your body creates painful aching in your bones, touching the stone with your knee burns your nerves, and you can't even grit your teeth. Experience taught you that doing it cause a rippling agony into your entire face.
You really can't wait until this shit is over.

''Activate the rune!''

Keldan clapped his hands once, nothing. Twice, the Undyne embrace of Focus causes her entire body to glow. Thrice, his voice bellowed with power ''________''

The water began to rush through the channels like a flowing river; rainbows of colors pierced upward in rays of sunshine through clouds. Outside, the noises of a raging sky diminished to nothing, as if reality consisted of nothing more than this little temple.

Ama's consumption of the pearls manifested grimly. The veins in her arms darkened, standing out against her pale skin, her fists looked decrepit, adopting a sickly, purplish color, and the skin of her limbs dried to your naked eyes. Her left arm was especially ghoulish; strange white spots on her skin combined with a noticeable decrepitude made you wonder if it was her bones.

''Ooof.'' Ama pretty features strained in a grimace. ''Manipulating pearls takes a massive toll on the users. I grew too familiar with chaining twenty of them with my shard before feeling weak... I'll be okay.''

She closed the gap between you and Hao with tiny, shaky steps. Two fingers touched your beloved knight on her heart; two others settled on your forehead. ''Here goes.'' All the deathly manifestations in her limbs drained, starting from the elbow. The magic wormed forward into your and Hao's bodies.

A foreign presence, a flow of ''something'' coursed into your body to find your soul. You had plenty of opportunities to raise the gates of your mental fortress; thus, you had to let it travel through your entire existence willingly. The spell quickly reached and settled inside Hao.

''Uuurg!'' Ama grimaced, nearly stumbling while walking back. ''F-fuck...'' She controlled her fall, turned, and vomited on the stone floor, barely managing her aim to avoid staining the glowing water. Then came a concert of coughs, and with the last vestige of her little strength, she avoided crumpling on her stain.

''Witch!'' Hao lunged forward to hold the fragile petite blond, turning her to let her rest on her knees.

Without suffering any pain.

Ama didn't look good. Noticeable beads of sweat crawled down her face, and when you got closer to feel her forehead after Hao, she felt far too hot for comfort.

''She'll be fine!'' Sieglinde loudly announced. ''Using pearls takes a huge toll on the user stamina if they aren't using communions!''

''She's burning a fever!'' Your reply visibly confused her.

''You can't leave the nexus!'' Kendal nearly yelled. ''Not until the ritual ends; we'll examine your friend afterward!''

''Arawn...'' Hao scooted close to you, putting as much distance as possible with Ama's... rejection.

''Our pain is already gone.'' Calling your feelings mixed was an understatement. Ama's loud breathing, pained sigh, and occasional coughing made it obvious her sudden fever wasn't a lie.

''Mirururu Miruru.'' She mumbled here and there.
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It took thirty minutes for the ritual to end. Afterward, the patriarch of the crow clan examined the witch and promptly -flew- through the storm without deliberation.

''What the hell just happened?'' Elina voiced everyone's thoughts.

''We'll know when she's healthy.'' Klesiah responded.

''This has to do with the pearls. Death pearls, tied with necromancy, death, and disease... maybe she caught something when channeling them? Because she's used to doing it through a body specifically crafted to handle the strain of pearls?''

''Hm, I believe so too.'' Sieglinde answered you, nervously running her big, claw hand through her hair. ''Are you guys okay?''

Hao suddenly tugged at your collar when you looked down at her; she dragged you onto her level for a kiss. An excellent way indeed to announce your vacation.

Ama made a full recovery three days later. Your hypothesis had been spot on: the concept of death imbued within necromantic pearls had affected Ama's body; she caught a nasty pneumonia. With dutiful Holy from Elina and the peerless medicine of the Tengu's temple, the little witch learned a harsh lesson despite all her experiences.

Now's come the time for you guys to choose how to proceed. >>5655688
>I need to invest in a new villain
Well we've met plenty of people who could qualify. Ol' Narly is just the biggest one. Political shenanigans are about to happen and that creates no shortage of em'. They don't even have to be outright evil, just desirous of things that put them into direct conflict with us. The sentiments of a pair of twins comes to mind. You have your own motives. Your own desires...

Also, while Ama is indeed crippled we can fix that with the Throne I believe. It's a max level combat encounter in there so we'll need to be well and thoroughly prepared if we don't wanna lose people but the regaining of her intel network and her fox shard form is well worth it. And hey we eliminated an enemy in the best way. We befriended her!

While I'd like to get right with Gardy ASAP I also don't think he likes to leave jobs hanging or half-finished. Let's give the belt back to Adam and see how Leena's doing. Then we can either go with him or sort the Ama situation out. Feels bad with what happened with the ritual. Poor ghoul girl must have been one of her only true friends and now she's gone forever. Can she be communicated with séance style so they could at least get a final goodbye?
>Well we've met plenty of people who could qualify.
We've been dealing with plenty of bullshit with the monster side, Humanity ain't any better as you'll see. I don't see your coming adversaries, even the most irredeemable pieces of shit, as villains. Only Armin deserves that title.
>The sentiments of a pair of twins comes to mind. You have your own motives. Your own desires
Xenosaga? Drawing a blank otherwise..
>While I'd like to get right with Gardy ASAP
One vote for our roboman, gonna start writing tomorrow evening at around 6 or 7 pm if fates allow so I'll leave the choice open until then.
>Can she be communicated with séance style so they could at least get a final goodbye?
Hmm... Given the circumstances, ease of access for the area where Mimiru died, and Vilma's presence... Yeah, I'd say it's possible to try and find out.
No, my vote was to go see Adam and then go for Gardy.

There a time limit on how long you got to try a seance? That could be an option we'd like to pursue if time allows.

I don't want to spoil it for you but if you haven't played the original NieR you're in for a good time if ya do. If by good time you mean suffering and I know you love suffering.
The line of events isn't chronological. Finishing one event might unlock another but the ''chain'' will be very obvious and not all *that* important compared to what I've listed. It's obvious setting up for Act 3 of course.
>There a time limit on how long you got to try a seance? That could be an option we'd like to pursue if time allows.
I'll likely put that option after we go through a few of the events. It'll happen after Shereen meets her sister I'd say, so I'd like to go through that first.

One vote for Adam it is.
Oooooh right, Nier. Yeah, I went through it. Good times.
The list of suggestions in >>5655688 seems pretty complete and I'd be fine with starting >>5655823.

only thing(s) I can think of that are potentially missing is Seeing how Zhu is doing, and deciding on how would be best to pursue her return.
This evening was almost a tiny festival. All the crow women of this highest mountaintop were hanging out all over the temple with alcohol flowing beyond reasonable measure, with musicians amongst them becoming the heart of the party. Some Mamonos even bestowed the crowd with unusual magic shows (someone managed to create -solid- lightning for a minute) or dances. Even the patriarch Kendal showed talent: the man is a damn good singer.

Tomiko's husband, twin daughters, and companion returned from their journey today, prompting the celebrations. The man was a striking sight: built like a warrior with hair fiery enough to rival Sieglinde, a naturally wide mouth, and an unkempt beard, ''wild'' was a good word to describe him. His girls had taken from their mother with similar long black hair and similar faces, the raven wings extending out of their hips announcing their species. Their elongated pointed ears weren't unusual for Tengu, even if sight often made you doubletake.

Now, for the last person.

''Adam! Come on, I'm alone at my table.'' You put your only good hand on his shoulder.

''Ah, Mysir! The night is young!'' One of the ravens-girl pestering him protested your intrusion. Once they drag him on the dance floor, you'll never get a chance to speak tonight.

''Later.'' You've spent enough time here to know that a firm hand was vital in handling these birds. ''Men gotta speak.''

The poor guy looked lost, surrounded by four ravens. The sharp looks his twins companions kept giving him had been one motivation to fetch him. Poor guy doesn't need to see his girls marking their territory yet.

It really had been something when your links did it.

''Thanks.'' Adam sighed, rubbing the sweat out of his face.

He looked well. His face was far better groomed than your encounter in that damn city. Wait...

''Got a haircut?'' You had to ask.

''My companions imposed it.'' He answered, waving for a waiter. ''News about what happened with you traveled all over the country, fluffy queens allied with the Demon Lord to take out the Pharaoh... heavy stuff. Are your girls OK? Rumors are light on details; people say there haven't been that many deaths, truth is often different.''

''Don't worry, I've successfully linked up with my allies, and none perished...'' You paused when one of the lovely island doctors gave your drinks, alcohol laced with Everblues for aesthetics. Crows loved ''safe'' exotic experience. ''... Zerase's ambitions took a massive toll on her people. It was an ugly mess; I did what I could to keep my people alive.'' You pointed at your missing arm before refreshing your throat. ''Witch won't be a problem anymore.''

After telling them you wanted to meet Adam alone, your girls gave you space tonight.

''Seriously?'' You couldn't fault his satisfaction, even if it irritated you.
''You probably won't like how things ended up, so let's discuss that subject tomorrow and enjoy the atmosphere tonight.'' Better shut down misconceptions. ''Still got your belt, ready to give it back to you whenever. Handy tool.''

''Oh.'' The man blinked a few times. ''I was so distracted, I forgot about that. I began to believe it broke it during our trials in Muribel.''

Damn, he's a bit inattentive, huh? ''Heard a little bit about your journey. Something about awakening a Site of Power? That sound even more important than what I was up to.''

''Did what I could for Leena.'' You acknowledged his spirit with a drink, both of you already on your second cups. ''That was a complete stroke of luck; place was already awakening on its own. All I did was to force the southern leadership into accepting it... or rather, make me collect an emerald to keep Leena alive.''

''You make it sound easy. I've experienced more than enough monsters stubbornness to know otherwise.'' He wasn't showing any wounds; if he hid something emotional, his pale hazel eyes betrayed nothing. ''You didn't have to spill blood? And our black cat? She's good?''

''Leena is in a safe hibernation; I took a chance by trusting an old Oni druid to use our only pearl, and she managed the spell despite being inexperienced. One nature pearl is enough to preserve her body for half a year, and the garden produces one monthly, so I have time to...'' Adam hesitated, glanced at his glowing drink, and finished its content. ''...accomplish a permanent solution.''

''Southern Zipangu is a weird place.'' He continues. ''There was a big event fifty years ago where lizards amazons from the jungle frontline of the Demon Lord ended up repatriated over there, and they conquered the Onis clans. It's a country split into two cultures, and people keep dueling to resolve issues, but I haven't seen any -real- rebellious spirits. Both races like to fight to resolve their issues while placing honor pretty high on their virtue lists.'' One pause for you two to share another gulp. ''Despite all the bullshit, it felt alive, even vibrant, compared to Muribel.''

The Pharaoh's realm was a soul-sucking place.

''Did you like your adventure?'' He was in a mood to talk, that's for sure.

''Dunno.'' He paused, looking at his glowing drink curiously. ''I wasn't thinking about having a good time. It was one hell of an experience, that's for sure.''

>Press him for more details about his adventure. It must be one hell of a tale.
>Ask about his relationship. Guy went down south into dangerous lands with Tomiko's twin daughters... even if their father was present, he must have juicy details. They went and gave him a haircut.
>Ask about his ''permanent'' solution for Leena. It sounds like a heavy topic. It might be best to breach it before both of you have too much alcohol in your guts.
Will friendship bloom? Guess we'll see!
>Press him for more details about his adventure. It must be one hell of a tale.
We might want to be more a little more buzzed for the other questions.
How's our alcohol tolerance? I mean, we can use focus to purge it I believe but that's cheating. The relationship angle will likely require he be quite drunk but that'll also mean he won't give us good info on Leena. It also won't do if we get too darn drunk and blackout thus losing the information.
Arawn is pretty sturdy, and Zipangu alcohol isn't the strongest (or best). Adam is likely to keel over before you do.
Ok then, first the details of the adventure, then Leena, then his deal with the tengu women. Try to pace the man such that he's only a little tipsy when talking about Leena but more inebriated when we push for info on his potential GF.

Also, try to slip him some water between drinks. That'll keep him from having a hangover (or at least minimize the one he will get). Do that for us too for the same reason.
Having some big internet trouble today, I'll post whenever I can, possibly a 30-minute cut between text or something like that.
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''How did it all go?''

''Well...'' Adam leans away to look at the night sky. ''...Pretty good, now that I think about it.''

''I remember the queen mentioning you. She sent you here through a portal, right?''

''Mmhm. That's when I met the twins, well, their dad first. I wasn't in any good mood after that stunt the witch pulled. It didn't occur to me that a random man covered in a full metal suit coming out of a portal wouldn't be trustworthy.'' He chuckles. ''Leena became the voice of reason, and after a few hours of talking, their chieftain finished examining her and...'' He paused to drink, his voice imprinted in bitterness. ''...Confirmed everything that witch told us. Natsumi and Natsuko insisted on accompanying me for some reason, which motivated their dad to come along. Dunno how they convinced their mother 'cause that woman was a real hen lemme tell you.''

''Better not let Tomiko hear that.'' No chance of that happening now that she's sitting with her family. ''People here are of good souls. It takes a special type to follow a stranger.''

''Yeah, I was too fixated on Leena's short time to see that. Without them, I wouldn't have accomplished anything, especially Rikard.'' His face softens in a smile. ''My companions knew the lands and had connections to make our travels quick until we reached the south.''

''Where things got complicated.'' That trip must have been when bonds began to form.

''Yup. I'll stay light on details. I'll take the whole night otherwise.'' He cleared his throat and refreshed himself. These birds were downright magical with the refills.

''Mission was simple: access the magical southern garden kept hidden by the Onis and amazons. Queen Ame believed me enough to grant me her royal seal, a powerful artifact that help her channel magic.''

Whoa! That fox is... rather shrewd now that you think about it. She knew something heavy was going on in Muribel. Adam's arrival confirmed she sent her beloved husband and the eldest daughter of the Demon Lord into grave peril. Even if he were a charlatan, she knew he would find it challenging to abscond with the artifact in the middle of her ally domain.

Again, here you are, lost in thoughts during a conversation. Bad habit!

''...Onis are separated into two main clans, Reds and Blues because most of their species share those colors.'' Good, he suspects nothing. ''So, our only option was to be taken seriously.''

''Meaning a fight.''

''Two.'' He nods with a smile. ''Mamono politic deserves a little credit; family, reputation, or money aren't the only things that can help you climb a short ladder into meeting leaders. Rikard suggested we went to the Onis first, which proved wise.'' Adam momentarily redirects his attention to one of the sneaky waitresses to ask for water on the side.
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''To summarize, something about Onis cultures has them values duos far more than individuals might. Me, Rikard, and his twin had to fight the Red and Blue clan leaders with a champion of theirs in two different duels. Leena weakened by the day, so we decided to have both fights at once.''

''And you won?''

''The girls did it fair and square. I've never seen people that coordinated in my life. I learned later that my opponent, that old druid I mentioned, let us win.''

''Sounds like there are good people amongst the warrior-races.'' Seeing Adam Magitek suit in action without worrying about keeping yourself and loved ones safe would be fascinating.

''Yeah, the Onis are good people. Both chiefs decided to follow me after hearing the full details of Leena's trouble.''

''Not so much for the lizards?''

''Circumstances didn't favor good meetings. I won't judge them because I wasn't... reasonable.'' He cringes, refreshes his throat, and leans back to cross his arms while resting one leg on his knee. ''Guarding that garden is one of the things both species agree on. Our problem is we couldn't meet with the lizard leader.''

''Oh? Was she unreasonable?''

''Unavailable.'' Adam briefly peruse the animated crowd of crows. ''Their leader isn't one of their race. She's a woman similar to Shereen. Canine beast woman with animalistic legs and arms.''

Wait a minute. ''Mebuchednazi?''

''You know her? She left on top of a wyvern before we could meet, putting us at an impasse. I've no idea about the finer details of politics, but even my dumb head can understand what a Triumvirate is. While the lizard's amazons conquered the Onis, the races and cultures won't assimilate, and the most powerful vassals of the queen are the Onis chieftains.''

''Visiting that garden would likely need the permission of all three leaders.''

Adam nods. ''Leena was running out of time when she began sleeping more than twelve hours daily. I knew she only had a week at best. Red woman wanted us to wait for proper ''blessings'' before going.''

''Kinda low to hold ''permission'' over your head while the kid your entire party is trying to save is dying.'' If Shereen were dying and someone said ''No'' to a cure, your reaction wouldn't be gentle.

''Onis have this tradition about creating debts of honors. I grabbed Fio by the horns, smashed my face into her, and invoked it by saying I'd be in her debt if we went to the garden.''

That must have made an impression. ''Message received?''

''Let's say she changed her mind.'' There's another story here; Adam had this ''I fucked up'' energy that could only be dispelled with a healthy gulp of glowing liquid courage. ''Blues and Reds Chieftains gathered a handful of their trusted agents, and we forced our way through the guards to enter that garden, but man, was it a bad idea.''
''Two shards of Mother Earth appeared out of nowhere and would have killed us if I hadn't mentioned Mina's and Klesiah's circumstances.'' Damn! Talk about layers of security! ''Despite their certainty with the garden deactivation, Medna druidic instinct led us into its core, and we found a pearl, which took the guardians by complete surprise.''

''Our black cat was saved.''You say, and he nods with a satisfied smile. ''Now came handling the fallouts, huh?''

''Details.'' Adam waves nervously. ''My entire party being nobles of Zipangu and the fact nobody died when we forced our way through is why I'm not rotting in a cell. I'm glad to be out of there. I trust Medna, she'll keep Leena healthy and make sure this consumption of pearls won't be a negotiable issue when the leaders meet.''

''Need is the fuel of miracles'' right true indeed. You're starting to see why Supremes believe that.

''My turn to share, though you'll have to forgive me; I need to be light on some details because I'll likely end up angering people I really don't want to piss off.''

''More than fine with me, Arawn. I'm glad you look well.'' Adam changes position to put his elbows on the table, looking conspiring. ''You were part of something historical. I want to hear your account.''

''Says the man who witnessed the awakening of a dormant Site of Power, that'll likely become a big fat deal in the coming months. You won't believe it, but the witch wasn't the biggest villain of our trouble in Muribel. See, before we met, there was an elven guest at the inn between the two cities...''


Combining your stories took the better part of an hour. You refrain from speaking about Mother Earth and Daiyu's situations. Knowing Armin's existence, what he did to Hao and that little aquatic lizard girl, the assault, all the death in Muribel's capital, then Shereen's decision at the apex of Ama's damnable game made for a sobering tale.

''I feel like she dragged you into this mess of a game for her amusement and shifted her focus on Shereen after finding out she wasn't a boring, pretentious little princess.''

''Mixed feelings is the only way I can describe what goes in my head whenever I look at Ama now.'' Both of you had slowed down, talking -really- make drinks disappears.

''I get ya, trust me. Red woman wants me to father her kid, I sure as shit ain't ready for that, but I'm bound by that fucking oath.'' His cup claps when he sets it down. ''I'm not confident I can take her one-on-one in a fight. It's probably the only thing that'll convince her to give me space. Or time.''

''Because she saw you fight, she won't allow you to get a champion or something, huh?''

''Nope, anyhow, that's not important.'' No Adam, that's actually -very- important, especially with the twins being so damn visible in their affections. Those love eyes tell no lie, good man. ''I wanna show you a little thing.''
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Pushing his chair for space, Adam lifted his left leg and pulled his pant up to reveal his skin... no, wait. His shin and foot are a mixture of gold and steel with a tiny, barely noticeable luster of orange.

''Prosthetic...?'' You can only whisper the obvious. ''...That's why you managed that stupid jump in Myrtidal!''

''Both legs sliced below the knees in an accident when I hadn't even finished puberty. I made em myself, but I still got a handful of different types back home.'' He points to your arm with audacity fueled by a belly full of liquor. ''With a good lab and material, I'm confident I can tinker a little something. Your body is familiar with Magitek strain, yeah?''

''Ayup had a gauntlet throughout the two months of Ama's game.''

''Can do it out of the goodness of my heart.'' He forces a chuckle and reaches for a drink with a grimace. ''Wish I could be that generous. I got a motive, and that shit s'making me feel guilty.''

''Don't be, ain't nothing wrong with friends helping each other.'' His eyebrows raise, and he takes a moment to observe you, his expression almost becoming vulnerable.

''I need a patron.'' Adam sighed, switching from alcohol to water. ''Leena's situation is good now, but she'll need a new body, something artificial, and building that, well... Easy to say, but it's a miracle to accomplish. I might honestly grow old enough to die before I'm halfway successful. You're in a relationship with Sieglinde, yeah? The eldest of the Demon Lord's daughters?''

''I see where you're getting, and let me tell you something amazing.'' As you lean forward to drop your voice to a whisper, you almost knock over your cup of glowing juices. ''Siggy's first sister is a goddamn Magitek genius; she created something that can make artificial soul links without side effects. She also piloted one of those dwarven metal armor things during our assault on the palace despite Corruption screwing up Magitek functions.''

''What?'' Adam reaction needs no description.

''I ain't shitting you. Belphegor, Siggy's aunt? She transformed the living area around the throne into a technological trove. Automatic lights, devices that can climb floors, a huge indoor lab at what must be... seven floors above ground?'' There's a shine of tear in one of Adam eyes. ''Demon Lord is equipped.''

''...'' Adam looked at the table in total, reasonable disbelief. ''Back in the college of Alchemy, a professor I knew managed to make an artificial body for a dog. That's the best mixture of soul and technology I've ever known. To make a device that can host fully conscious human souls...?'' He doesn't finish his sentence; he ends it with a drink.

Something nearly slips out of your mouth, words that, thankfully, remain still despite the increasingly warm, cloudy sensation in your mind. Liquored-up promises and oaths are often the sources of heartaches and regrets... but is it truly a bad idea?
>''If you're willing to stick around, Adam, we can help each other. You might have to showcase your skills after I slip a few words to Sieglinde. Once the Demon Lord girls trust you, we might even share a lab...''

>Don't go making promises now. Your future will be challenging and unpredictable. You might even become the eye of a storm that'll hurt everyone around you... Adam has his ambition and duty.

Making a promise to Adam will add him as an asset during act 3, an ally loyal to Arawn with the commitment of keeping Leena hibernation ongoing to keep him steadfast. The guy knows how to weaponize and construct fairly advanced Magitek equipment.

One more choice here >>5656703 will end this short event
Press for more details on adventure
My post above covered that, unless you want a deeper account of what happened, like how the fights went in details?
So now the choice is whether or not we try and make Adam an asset in magitek research and ask about one of the other things? Either info on his potential solution or his love life with the tengus?

Darn, well we never can get everything we want.
>Either info on his potential solution or his love life with the tengus?
Mmhm. Adam never had any real friends, so he's being mighty awkward.
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Well, he said he needs a patron with deep pockets and nothing says effectively infinite money like Government Funded out of a "First World" nation like Throne Town.

We need smart people/good help, and he needs phat stacks of Government Cash. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. Make him an asset.

Also, as making him an asset means he will (by necessity) spill the beans about his solution later we should liquor him up a bit more and ask about the tengu girls. Again, both us and him should be downing water between drinks to minimize or eliminate the coming hangover.
One vote for making him an asset and a deeper dive into his relationship.
>"First World" nation like Throne Town.
Demon Lord domain might not be wide, but it's Tall that's for sure.
Also, just caught this, but is Adam now bound by an oath to an oni girl to be her hubby? I mean, I get that men are hard to come by but going straight to marriage...

I guess the lengths he was willing to go to for the sake of a stranger's child made a hell of a good impression. A man like that can't be a bad dude and as good dudes are both rare and hard to find any smart mamono would exploit the opportunity to nab one. Still feels a bit underhanded though. Could have at least taken him out to dinner first and tried seduction before using the oath.
Let's say they have some issues to resolve. Gonna lock down the choice I have now, working on update.
I'm having major computer issues now. Posting from my phone while making a factory reset, gonna post when I can.
An abundance of caution can also be cowardice or indecision masquerading as logic. Adam isn't an idiot; he knows the impact of your relationships and heritage. Extend your hand, Arawn.

''If you're willing to stick around, I'll speak with Sieglinde, and we can see about giving you a semi-permanent place in Belphegor lab. Of course, that'll likely mean people will start assuming you've defected, but we won't demand that commitment.''

''I've never been attached to the Allied Kingdoms...'' Adam volume drops to a mumbling. ''...Let's start with that prosthesis; gotta see if my skills have rusted. I appreciate what you're doing, Arawn. I'm not sure if I can help Leena at all.''

The pressure of his ambition combined with emotional juice is getting to him; better start being a buddy and try to distract him at least.

''We ain't getting there tonight, so...'' One pause for a drink, trying to be a little theatrics. ''...Tell me about the twins. I've seen the spark, something's going on.''

''Not really.'' He cringes, looking down and away from you.

''Mate, please. I'm no relationship expert, but I won't believe that a passionate young guy like you wouldn't have at least an emotional moment with his companions on that journey. Hell...'' You lean forward to whisper. ''...already had one with that Fio red gal, right?''

''Isn't relationship gossip the domain of women?'' He grumbles an answer. The redness of his cheeks makes you laugh.

''True enough, true enough.'' You lean back to give Tomiko's family another examination. Husband, wife, and daughters are still together; you and Adam have been quick on consumption, the celebrations aren't slowing down.

''I'll stick to water for tonight.'' Adam's eyebrows raise at your statement. ''I ain't trying to pull your tooth. Only talk if you wanna.''

''Erg, just feeling like a teenager is all. My feelings are all over the fucking place.'' Adam returned to his crossed legs and arms position, flushed face grimacing with embarrassment. ''The twins bonded with Leena quickly; every night, they slowly extracted why I cared so much outta me.''

That is something you'd like to know, but you'll wait to ask. His feelings for helping Leena are honest, but the intensity of his desperation is worrisome. Trying to guess would be mighty rude.

''Before we got distracted down south, the girls dragged me to sleep in the same tent, four people made for... ah, squeezy nights.''

''Y'know, that's super familiar; Sieglinde love sleeping in a big pile. I can feel how much it brings her peace.''

Adam expression shows simultaneous interest and worry. ''Must be a Monster thing, I'm surprised you understand tho. Platonic group sleeping sounds hard to believe.''

''What'd you think?''

''I... I think the last time I ever slept beside someone was with my mother when I was a kid. I felt at peace with all three of us... Good sleep, yeah.''
''Y'know.'' You need to point something out here. ''I'm no wise man, so I'll speak from instinct. You got close to the twins without their dad dragging you by the hair for a solid beating; you've done something right.''

''Ah!'' You extract a hearty chuckle out of him. ''Maybe, maybe. I've... I don't know Arawn; I talked with them often at night, but once we reached the south, it was difficult to get close, and I'm not the kind of man who can make a woman happy, let alone two. Or three.''

''I've been in those shoes, Adam, and lemme tell you, my girls forced me to believe otherwise.'' His case seems a reverse of yours; you support your links, while the twins may try to help Adam more intimately. ''I think you need to take an evening for a long, hard think about the women who helped you with Leena. Hell, can you tell which twin is who?''

''Took me a while but yeah. It's in the way they look at you, their eyes have the same yellow hazel, but Natsumi has a natural warmth in her gaze, while Natsuko is sharper, a bit colder. I can't guess who's who when they're trying hard, tho, not yet.'' His demeanor slowly but surely relaxes as he finishes speaking.

''What about that Red Oni? Fio?''

''She's... Friendly. Her thighs could crush your head, but honestly? Her energy is infectious, making Leena and I laugh several times. She kept motivating our entire little troupe to keep going. It's just... we didn't part on good terms.''

You have to nod here; you'd probably do the same thing. ''I can imagine. What she wants from your oath is kinda...''

''Actually, that was in a letter she sent me. The last time we spoke was when I smashed my face into her. Being jailed and Rikard nearly shoving me in a potato sack to get out of the south didn't give us many chances to say goodbye.''

Oh, interesting. You'll have to dispel your misconception, Adam doesn't look angry or even uncomfortable when speaking about that woman, Fio. Reasonably bitter, yes, but there's nothing overly negative.

''If you were to speak face to face and tell her you aren't ready -at all- for the commitment she demands, well, you'll get to find out if she's a reasonable person.'' Despite the slow inebriation, he's nowhere near lost enough to forget tonight. ''I'll back you if she keeps pushing, though honestly, you ought to speak about this with the twins.''

''I shouldn't burden anyone with my problems.''

''Should I burden you with my missing arm? Lean on others, Adam. At least try. You had to be completely alone for Ama's game but decided to take a chance with us. Hell... oh wait, one moment. Ambrus! Come here!''

You spotted the man in the middle of the crowd, surrounded by too many pretty raven-girls. His wife sat at the main table, almost reveling in his misery.

He reaches your tables almost like a man fleeing sharks. ''Mother's Light, thanks, I won't stay long. Damn wife and her games...'' Then he realizes you aren't alone. ''Shit, am I interrupting?''
''Nah, I'm glad you're here. See, Adam here is much better than me at Magitek, and I was just about to ask... Are you confident with making an arm for a Mamono?''

''It's not easy because of Corruption.'' Adam leans on the table. ''See, gold is a natural conductor of magic, and by combining that with a particular smithing method, you can make steel prostheses that fuse with body and souls without side effects when it comes to humans. Unfortunately, Corruption complicates things because you need a material that resonates somewhat naturally with the specie you're healing.''

''But you can do it.'' You press him, Ambrus reasonable disbelief has him sitting silently, watching.

''Give me a good lab, material plenty of material, and the patient proximity, and I should have something in three weeks.'' He finishes his drink. ''A Mamono close to you needs it?''

''My wife. Arawn, allowed her to use his gauntlet for the past two weeks. She's been handling the strain well enough, though she's often fatigued...''

''That's a good sign. It's the more straightforward side effect to endure, meaning she's compatible with Magitek.'' Adam has a much more confident smile now. He does, indeed, love helping people.

When you'd look back at this night later, it would be easy to recognize this moment sparked a little flame of friendship between three men of widely different backgrounds... And you don't remember anything afterward; everything is a blur after mentioning Teruko's arm.

We return to our choices here. >>5655688
Should Arawn encourage Adam to pursue a relationship with his companions? Or give them space? This is more of a ''background'' choice that will help me shape the potential friendship between Arawn, Adam, and potentially Ambrus a little better.
I won't be able to reply for a good while but by pursue a relationship with his companions do you mean encourage him to get with Fio and the Tengu Twins? That he should try to bro it up with us and Ambrus? Both? I mean, we could use more bros in our life. Men need male friends after all. Iron sharpens iron and all that.

I thought Alarunes could regen limbs but it takes a few months in essentially stasis correct? I can see why Teruko doesn't want that. Good mother can't bear the thought of missing anything relating to her precious child but would like to not be down an arm for the next decade or so.
Encourage him to try for a relationship with the birds and Oni. Bromance is having a spark now but will have a real chance to be established during act 3. And yeah, plants-lady regeneration take a long time, Teruko know the coming months are gonna be busy, so she want to go tech. She wants to be here for her kid and Hao... and of course her husband.
Would it be possible for him to pursue a relationship with them on his own terms? Y'know, get them all together and just ask them directly what kind of relationship they'd like to have with him and whether or not he thinks it could work from his end? Many headaches in romance (or hell even regular friendships) could have been avoided had all related parties stated their expectations and desires right at the beginning after all.

I'd like to encourage him as these girls seem swell, but I don't want the man to be a simp about it either.
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>Would it be possible for him to pursue a relationship with them on his own terms?
I might have failed to express myself. Whether Adam pursues or enters a relationship is out of your hands, that bonus choice was for Arawn general attitude on the subject. Being supportive, encouraging him to go for it etc, or staying relatively neutral about it.

It's not -that- important.

Also, I'm having serious trouble with my computer again, took me 3 hours to boot up properly. I'll be able to update via phone if I'm completely unable to keep writing at least
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Well, than I vote to encourage/be supportive of the dude in the way I mentioned. Sit em' all down and just have a serious discussion from date #1.

Seriously, most everyone has no idea how much bad shit could have been avoided if they had all just been utterly honest with themselves and each other right from the start. Tell everyone to honestly lay all their cards on the table and do likewise yourself. That's how you start a good and healthy relationship of any kind be it romance or bromance.

As for our next option I think you said we can eventually get around to all of em' and they ain't in chronological order. Many of them I think would logically occur after we sort things out with bestest buddy. I am interested in what Anais has to say though. Would our episode with Anais happen before or after Gardy? If before we deal with it first. If after than we go for what happened with bestest buddy ever.
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Gardy moment is undeniably the earliest thing in the timeline, everything else is several degrees of ''later''
Then we resolve things with bestest buddy next. That's my vote anyway.

I doubt he'd disapprove of the advice I'd like to give Adam. That honesty includes what you have to say about yourself to their parents. Gardy had a daughter figure (her name escapes me ATM). He'd be way more willing to give Mr. Honesty a chance over a duplicitous dude who said one thing but meant another I'd wager and that'd reflect in what we had to say to our (hopefully) future bro.
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>Gardy had a daughter figure (her name escapes me ATM)
Devona, humanity Pretender Goddess. Gonna lock it up tomorrow at around 4 pm
Computer is 100% dead, update will be delayed until I have access to another machine. At least I kept my notes handwritten
Got access to a laptop, I'll give myself a day or two to let my overwhelming frustration pass before I post. Meeting Gardy is important, I don't want my mood to ruin it.
The great college of Throne Town had weathered its crisis flawlessly. There wasn't any sign of last year's assault. Every morsel of damage caused by the rampaging mutants had been repaired and polished, and crowds of buzzing students reminded you that groups of people don't always have to make you uncomfortable.

None of them were familiar faces. Of course, you didn't make any connections amongst last year's student body, but you remember seeing friendly strangers had become an unusual comfort during your stay.

Your group arrived here through a portal; Sieglinde prepared the trip whenever you needed it. This caused a predictable uproar, but no student was bold enough to interrupt the eldest daughter of the Demon Lord, an unfortunate dignitary was the one tasked with bothering your group. ''The council of Three will continue caring for the city. I'm not back yet.'' Sieglinde quickly shut down the lady's inquiries, sending her away with a dismissive handwave.

You wouldn't be seeing the Throne's dutiful maids today.

The three (previously four) heads of the most influential noble families of the great city-state were administrating it; Zazawu acted as an ''anchor of interest'' to veto any significant policy they'd attempt to sneak under Belphegor or Sieglinde's noses. (A job everyone knew he hated, resulting in much pussyfooting.) Only they possessed administrative authority when the Demon Lord was indisposed, meaning Throne Town would remain in limbo until Siggy's aunt took a semi-permanent administrator seat next month.

Your destination is a newly built eastern extension a fair distance from the college and entrance into broader Throne Town, a place that brought fragments of dread from all of your links. It was a field last year, and it is here that Sieglinde, surrounded by the evil witch ''Lady White'' goons, had her throat slit. The place where you somehow forcefully created a soul-link with Elina, Sieglinde, and Hao, ending with all of you sleeping for an entire year.

Klesiah is the only one without tumultuous emotions, even if the girls aren't showing it. Shereen reluctantly let go of your hand now that you've reached your destination. The college had enthralled her a great deal during your arrival.

''Your mother built a chapel?'' The words slip out of your mouth.

''Yeah.'' Sieglinde's dry voice makes her sound uninviting.

Trees, decorative statues, flowers, and even a hedge wall had combined to hide the tiny building from view until Sieglinde led you closer. What you assumed to be guards patrolled the area in a reasonably wide berth; nobody gave your group any trouble.
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The chapel looked plain at first glance. A rectangular core made for most of its space, while the entrance was a hallway giving it a handful of forward meters. The stones were the first hint that clued you on this place's oddity: black, almost soot-like stones merged with grayish material, and the only door was a mixture of steel, copper, and lines of gold. Four obvious middle holes placed one next to the other was the core of whatever mechanism opened this door

''Gardy is in there, not in the Red. He is in between; the purpose of this chapel is to thin the barrier. Every two days, students come here to do widespread summoning rituals to consume all the critters of the Red being attracted here.''

A manpower extensive maintenance.

''I feel like meeting him. Should we after his talk with Arawn?'' Elina's question lit up a wave of honest cheeriness in Hao's heart.


''I wouldn't mind bringing you all right now.'' This isn't bravado; the girls understand you're honest. ''Gardy would be happy to know we're all doing good. I want him to meet Shereen too.''

''Not yet...'' Sieglinde's sound distant. Her lovely face shows nothing of her inner turmoil as she walks in front of the door. ''...Our two men need to speak alone; They've earned it.'' Her tail aligned with one of the holes, stabbed into it, and sharply twisted leftward, creating a thick click that opened the door after pulses of blue energy briefly traveled up and down. Inside was a gloomy hallway that was undeniably in total darkness before opening.

''You're acting a little scary, Sieglinde.'' Shereen had been quiet enough to be completely forgotten until now.

''Sorry...'' Sieglinde grows timid instead of keeping her pride, her clawed, dark hand held onto her elbow. ''It'll be best if they talk together first.''

''Why? I have no intention of holding any secrets. I'll get him out of there if I can, y'know?'' Sieglinde increasing nervousness and discomfort put a stop to your questioning. ''It's okay, I don't mind. That's probably Gardy request, huh?''

''Yeah.'' Sieglinde isn't lying. ''Sorry for being awkward; being here again makes me... queasy.''

''Bad memories cling to familiar places.'' Hao walks next to demoness, gently grasping her hand. ''No sorry needed.''

''Yeah.'' Klesiah mimicked her junior.

Touched yet guilty, Sieglinde can only smile back silently.

''I've got this intense [blue]déjà vue[/blue]...Well, something pretty intense happened here.'' Elina glares at the chapel. A surprisingly poignant frustration radiates from her. ''We'll wait here, Arawn.''

That's how you ended up inside this creepy, soon-to-be dark hallway. The orange light of your gauntlet guides you forward when the door closes as you try your best to chase off the memory of the abominable battle. You let Gardy's soul ultimately control your body back then and woke up a year later without him. Now he's waiting beyond this closed door made of this strange, soot-like stone.
Before you reach to open it, a phenomenon gives you pause. Strange sensations you couldn't pinpoint accurately made you wonder about your mental state. An unnatural weight on your shoulders, your mind balanced between alert and sluggishness, momentary hotness in your fingers, odd shaking of arms at random times... Weird or uncomfortable is a good way to put it, and ultimately easy to ignore with an effort of will.

That doesn't matter. You have a friend to meet.

''Here goes...'' You whisper to yourself.

What immediately catches your attention is the room's central oddity. Right in the middle of a perfectly flat and even floor was a golden orb wrapped in crystal that extended into the west and east walls, with a third branch grasping the roof. Its light cast an eternal somber evening sun, yet the darkness behind you never diminished. One small, filled library and two chairs were the only things furnishing the room. Visible dust clings to the air, enough to feel irritating but lacking the needed volume to make you believe this place had been abandoned for a year, perhaps a month...

Your friend is here. His metal body remains motionless, sitting in front of that strange encased orb, a puppet without string. The colors of his body have faded, yet looking at him for too long causes a stinging pain no different than forcing your eyes onto a strong light.


The door behind you closes, and your friend's head jerk upward, his singular yellow optic casting a solid light on you. One look, one identification; small copper rectangles around his long eye tense and relax. You've seen that reaction more than enough to understand that there is emotion here.

''Hey, Gardy!'' You close the distance waving your only arm.

''...Wounded?'' His voice is wholly inorganic, extracted from metallic innards, grave and heavy, a stark difference from the inner voice of his soul.

''I'm good.'' You step closer, giving your missing limb a sidelong glance. ''Bit of a story here, as you can tell. You okay?''

''I remain functional.'' He's back to utilitarian language again. Thankfully he's acknowledging his existence. ''It was my dearest wish to find and help you; Here I must remain.''

''Yeah?'' You've got questions, but they'll wait. ''Has anyone told you what I've been up to?'' He gently shakes his head. ''I'll bet it's an adventure to rival your old ones.''

Relating your Muribel experience has become familiar, and Gardy is the best listener. His attention never wavers, asking relevant questions like your relationship with Zhu or what convinced you to remain with Shereen, helping you regain your thoughts... He methodically absorbs everything you say for all thirty minutes it takes you.

''Your earlier remark was apt, an adventure to rival all of Devona's.'' He looks into his hand, his first movement.

There's an undeniable distance between you; is it a gulf or a step?
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''Your body should adapt to a prosthesis quickly; I used a similar method to replace lost limbs...'' His singular optic cast a robust yellow light over your stump. ''...a method unfit for flesh and blood, too dangerous, painful and inefficient.''

''Thanks, mate. I still haven't figured out all the tricks of our body.'' A sharper pain stung your eyes as you looked at him. For an instant, you wondered if he was about to flicker out of existence.

''Yours.'' His authoritative voice holds a hint of organic warmth. ''You are fully flesh and blood now; only your skeleton remains metal.''

''...'' The painful twist in your heart keeps you momentarily silent. ''...Okay. Do you think trusting Ama after hearing all this is safe?''

It is this question that constantly nagged at you every night. That witch makes you so damnably indecisive... mainly because you can afford to be wishy-washy for once.

The light of his optic fall to the ground, and tiny plates on his face tighten and relax like furrowed brows. ''To trust or reject is a leap of faith; the incorruptible heart of Shereen deserves loyalty.'' Yes, it does. ''Excising all of Lady White's reputation makes me believe that her games weren't motivated solely by whims. There was a purpose beyond entertainment.''

His head jerk upward. He's made up his mind.

''You wield no sword of justice, Arawn. Your arm bears a shield. Honor the good faith of your priestess; Honest pure-hearted belief could have been what Ama sought. Power is a lonely throne; would a cold-hearted selfish jester give Leena a chance, or indulge in the tragedy?''

Interesting choice of words. ''It'll take time... I'll try my best to take a step with trusting her.''

''Time is the best gift you can give.'' His metallic body doesn't make any noises as he steps closer. ''I will examine my memory for familiarity about this Armin creature; what you've told me has troubled me greatly.''

''Meaning...'' There, you hesitate even if the truth is plain. ''...You can't return with me?''

''No.'' Plain, cold refusal. ''Your duty is to your loved ones; mine is to remain here.'' He nods at the unusual golden core inside the crystalline branches. ''Do not spare thoughts for my well-being, my friend. Here, I can relive all forty years of my time with Devona, remembering each day with the clarity of a window. The good Demon Lord even saw fit to deliver books once a month. I am no prisoner.''

''Gardy...'' It has been challenging to make him believe he could start interacting with the world again. Now he's sacrificing himself again to guard this... thing?

''You are the one most deserving of my body, Arawn'' His statement catches you off-guard, his glowing yellow eye focused on your face. ''Let the ambitions of your loved ones drive you to remain at their sides. You've stayed true and faithful. My emotions are minuscule sparks, but I am -happy- to call you a friend. You have your duty; I have mine.''
''Remaining here to guard this... thing?'' When you gesture at the object, he nods, rectangular ''brows'' clicking in agreement.

''Arawn?'' Gardy makes the unusual gesture of putting a fist above the area of his heart. ''I need you to be honest with me.''

''Honesty has been my greatest saving Grace, Gardy. I won't start lying now.''

How his head tilt and his eye lose strength for the briefest moments is strangely adorable. ''Good. Is the curiosity behind the purpose of this golden core irresistible, Arawn? Do you -need- to know what happened here a year ago, the cause of your links with Sieglinde, Elina, and Hao?''

''I...'' It is a tricky question. You do want to know, but is it something more profound than curiosity?

''Arawn, knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Everything that is sentient comes with a powerful soul; their emotions create profound traces within reality; this energy animated the Pretender of olds. Faiths birthed gods.''

''Ama ritual needed secrecy until Hao condition ''settle'' within reality.'' You continue his train of thought. ''If she were famous, ma-''

Gardy holds up a finger ''Do not tell me.'' He says firmly.

''...If a large number of people -knew- her, that would have undone our cure. Something similar happened here?''

''Yes. Throne Town is a few degrees into the Red. Yet the belief it is inside its own dimension slowly became truth, yet it is still reachable by sea and land. This little stretch of land we stand on... caused a wound, moving us a few degrees more into the Red.''

''Does Sieglinde know?'' You already know the answer.

''Only one beside me.'' Gardy nods. Could it be... that's why she felt inexplicably afraid or guilty?

''Arawn.'' Gardy large body encompass your field of view. ''Lady White guessed what happened here and allowed me to extract the knowledge out of her. Daiyu Jawahir guessed what happened here and allowed me to complete my duty. Martha Jawahir understood what I had to do when we met. Deruella Jawahir found out what happened here a few nights when your coma started and allowed me to do my duty.'' He gestures for the orb. ''Their memories are contained here until reality adapts.''

''You have a good head on your shoulders.'' Gardy continues. ''Examine, ask yourself questions, pursue logical solutions without ignoring or being blinded by emotions... That is why I must ask; can you distract yourself when night comes? Not think of this chapel? To not examine, investigate and come to a potential solution? A dangerous ''truth'' could reverberate into your links... Unlike Sieglinde, you are the core of a soul link.''
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>Pursuing the mysteries of your memories has been your greatest driving force until love settled into your heart. You can't trust yourself to -not- think about your protector, or what happened here; mysteries must be unfolded, understood, quantified... It would be safest to add yet more gold to Gardy's burden. Ama, Daiyu, Martha, and Deruella all found out; follow their footstep because this ''truth'' isn't well hidden.

>You want to know, but you'll distract yourself when the urge comes. Hug your lovers, worry about the insurmountable ambition that is curing Daiyu and Mother Earth, and drill the existence of Armin into your skull... You want to know, and you'll force yourself to look away. The danger here isn't to ''know'' it is acknowledgment.

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This is an interesting choice. So I take it that if we observe the orb and regain that lost memory something really bad happens but we get Gardy back and may be able to "deal with it" as it were.

Letting him stay here and keeping ourselves in the dark traps him here but prevents the bad thing from happening.

So they *all* allowed Gardy to blank their memories once they deduced what happened in one way or another but for some reason he couldn't do that with Sieg? As in if we asked Deru, Martha, or Ama they legit wouldn't know?

About the whole "reality" adapting thing. About how long would that take?

Given how we've played Arawn he is more of a "read the books" type if ya catch my meaning (if ya ever played Call of Cthulhu) meaning I doubt we could fully "not/don't think about it" as it were so I'm leaning towards option 1.

Is there any material difference between just hearing the story and directly remembering? As in, could we be told a rough approximation about what happened and it not screw things up too much? On a scale of 1-10, how bad would this thing he's keeping from happening be?
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>So they *all* allowed Gardy to blank their memories once they deduced what happened in one way or another but for some reason he couldn't do that with Sieg?

>As in if we asked Deru, Martha, or Ama they legit wouldn't know?
That could relights/reaffirm their knowledge, so that'd be dangerous.

>About the whole "reality" adapting thing. About how long would that take?
Honestly depends on the situation and the gravity of the ''glitch''. Hao ritual, for example, isn't really -that- important. Changing race to adapt to her body necromancy is fairly harmless. Give it 2-3 weeks and her being a revenant is iron-clad reality.
Whatever Gardy is guarding clearly needs more than a year for reality to ''affirm'' itself. Here's another example: a generous amount of Holy would allow a heart transplant to take place without organ rejection, but if knowledge of the procedure is known to around 100k people, them wondering ''replacing one heart with another? Impossible!'' would cause the healing magic to evaporate. If education catches up with science, then heart transplant + Holy will work, since many sentient people accept it. However, doing a proper scientific transplant as we do here on earth will -never- be rejected by reality, no matter how many people deny it because there was no magic involved.
Do you understand the need for secrecy?

>Is there any material difference between just hearing the story and directly remembering? As in, could we be told a rough approximation about what happened and it not screw things up too much?
Deruella guessed what happened three days after your coma and had Gardy extract the knowledge out of her head. Guessing and being ''certain'' of your answer is what could be very, very dangerous because you're the -source- of Sieglinde, Hao, and Elina soul links, and remember, at the end of act 1, all three of them were linked to Arawn in a coma. Arawn last memory of the event is Sieglinde being overcome by her inner Corruption and going berserk on everything around her

>On a scale of 1-10, how bad would this thing he's keeping from happening be?
I feel like answering is a bit of a cheat... 9 Not a widespread catastrophe, though. Otherwise he'd be in a very different place.
I'm guessing re-fusing with Gardy would necessarily entail us regaining the memory.

I think I'm getting it a bit. It's not the knowing per se, it's whether or not we'll be able to keep ourselves from wondering, imagining, or even asking related questions. Can we keep ourselves from guessing and ruminating on it? The others knew they couldn't so they had Gardy remove the memory but if anyone asked something relevant, told them a guess, or started researching anything related to a solution to this particular crisis somehow and it was "warm" that'd cause a cascade effect and they'd then follow the path from warm to hot to thermonuclear/absolutely the truth about what happened in spite of themselves because, well, telling someone (even yourself) to NOT think about something is a guaranteed way to get them to think about it.

We were "distracted" a whole bunch back in Muribel with existential life-or-death circumstances and situations one after another. Now, now that we and ours are safe, that's going to pull on our mind an awful lot in the quiet moments between work, sleep, and love.

Honestly, staying in character, I don't think we can. Not without a copious amounts of drugs anyway. Self-Medicating the way combat vets who had everyone in their unit but them die badly for no good reason do.

Even then that might not be enough to actually stop the cascade. Does Gardy know the nature of the bad thing? It's not going to nuke Throne Town it seems but it could nuke us and our linked girls. 9 level bad is very worrying. Knowing that it could kill the girls or us effectively dead could be the base for an effective Geis that'd keep our curious mind from digging.
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>The others knew they couldn't so they had Gardy remove the memory but if anyone asked something relevant, told them a guess, or started researching anything related to a solution to this particular crisis somehow and it was "warm" that'd cause a cascade effect and they'd then follow the path from warm to hot to thermonuclear/absolutely the truth about what happened in spite of themselves because, well, telling someone (even yourself) to NOT think about something is a guaranteed way to get them to think about it.
Indeed, the women inquisitiveness and sharp mind was her biggest enemy in this case. Ama, Daiyu, Martha, and Deruella all decided to get a brain probe.
>Does Gardy know the nature of the bad thing?
Yes, and he sealed himself in a hole a step away from the Red to diminish his influence.
>It's not going to nuke Throne Town it seems but it could nuke us and our linked girls.
It is a risk for a third party to ''tell'' you, of course, the extraction oughta keep you safe here. You'll have a natural revulsion about the topic. Bit of a safety hazard otherwise
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So if we go with Option 2 Gardy makes us forget about him as well? That'd be about the only way save for a Geis to keep us from wondering and having our curiosity consume us at some point. More than a year is an awful long time spent "not thinking about it".

I think the other reason that they let their memory get blasted is because, well, ultimately it ought to be our choice. We effectively weren't asked and Gardy was just fulfilling his purpose to "protect" so we don't hold it against him but that fact remains.

So Gardy telling us what would likely happen if we go with the first option carries a significant risk of us figuring it out independently and thus having that consequence happen anyway? After reality "settled" would it be safe to recall the memory and re-fuse with him? How would we know when it was if that's the case?
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>So if we go with Option 2 Gardy makes us forget about him as well?
No, option 2 will be Arawn doing his best to not think about how the assault on the college ended. this option, while undeniably dangerous, does have merit because Arawn will train his mind to distract himself from this dangerous ''truth''. Not gonna be easy of course. There is some merit in doing that, makes your mind that much harder to infiltrate.
Option 1 is brain probe. It's impossible to forget Gardy though, you'll just know there's a ''hole'' about this meeting, everything connected with the event will be easy to forget, kinda like Armin existence.

>After reality "settled" would it be safe to recall the memory and re-fuse with him?
It should, yes

>How would we know when it was if that's the case?
That, unfortunately, is very much impossible to know for now.
Wait, I thought option 1 is us just saying F it and remembering. So both options end with us not re-fusing with Gardy?

I'm guessing he's very partial towards us not remembering one way or another and staying here until this matter is "settled" in reality. Could we still come here to ask him questions about other things? He's still a repository of knowledge from the pretender Era and we might well need that. Ama is one too, but Gardy knows things she doesn't and vice-versa.

Also, any option that makes recalling or researching Armin harder is right out. Not-Narly is at the top of our "To Kill" list because he's a danger to everyone in this reality and our not insignificant personal grudge. We will be wanting to find a way to find and permanently end him. If that means risking ourselves and those around us so be it. I'm certain they feel likewise. Can't let the fluffy bastard run amok unopposed.
>Wait, I thought option 1 is us just saying F it and remembering.
No no, I might have written them poorly in the haze of posting/writing, but Option 1 is to follow the women's footsteps and have Gardy ''seal'' your memory like them.
>So both options end with us not re-fusing with Gardy?
Yeah, he's refusing to do that. He needs to guard that orb.
>Could we still come here to ask him questions about other things?
Yup. He's not going anywhere.
>Also, any option that makes recalling or researching Armin harder is right out.
Fortunately, no complication here. Gardy will do his best to scour his own memories, but his is so picture-perfect he's been reliving his time in the past, a creature like Armin is very much a first.
Learning some unknown dude tried to -poison- Ama scared the fuck out of your good protector, believe me.
Option 2 sounds more in character then. We do *not* like mind fuckery. Other people might be OK with it, but we ain't. Even if it's "safer" the mere fact someone, even best buddy ever, actively fucking with our mind is involved is unacceptable.

Plus if we forget we won't be able to research the whole "when is it safe to remember" thing. We do wanna know that one.
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Hard path it is huh? Gonna leave things open until tomorrow afternoon. One vote to -not- let Gardy probe your mind
How is it hard? Will we have to roll to not remember if we research certain things? Will we risk seeing the truth in our dreams and have to roll on that?
No, nothing like that. Just a few intriguing potential choices to help Arawn keep his mind off that event.

No choices in this thread will fuck you over, it's all set-up for act 3 after all.
Well throwing ourselves into our research projects is a good way. I mean, we are trying to jump start an Industrial Revolution as a side goal. We have the parts available to make it so, we just gotta assemble the machine.

Like I said near the beginning, we're likely this world's Charles Babbage if we swing it right. All it takes is a few intuitive leaps given what's already available. Try reading D&D 1st edition and the spell list as written. Yeah. Once you have access to "Enchant an Item" and "Permanency"...

Oh... Oh dear. You could totally automate magical item creation, build/create Mechs, or whatever else you can imagine if you have a few other spells/Clerics willing to help with Divine Magic/etc.

The only thing stopping you from doing so is a mind unnecessarily fettered by silly things like "This is a fantasy game not a Sci-fi!?"

Jack Vance didn't give a fuck about that and neither should we!
Finding a way to heal the two good mothers will also keep you occupied, and hell, the girls themselves are biiiig distractions... This event with Gardy will have one last choice after this one, then back to our regular program. Sure wish my computer didn't die last week, but eh, shit happen.

Discovering how other countries handled alchemy and Magitek will be equally interesting and heartbreaking.
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We won't need to do anything really evil/immoral as I doubt Belph went down that path and I'm talking about taking what she and Martha already made and putting it to new uses they never thought of.

Like I said. Intuitive leaps. Don't care about what it was "designed" to do. I care about what it "CAN" do. Like I said, an enterprising mind can and will read what "Enchant" and "Permanency" do and go friggin' nuts with it.

Granted, those are very high level spells. You have to be Name Level to know them. It'll take you, starting from level one and assuming 1 to 1 timekeeping, years to hit that point assuming your Magic User doesn't die before someone can have reliable access to resurrections.

Once you do though. Oh boy. That's why you picked Magic User if you rolled the stats for it in the first place. The very power of the cosmos bent to serve your worldly ends. That's the dream of the Wizard!

(Pic unrelated but this kind of shit isn't impossible if Clerics and Magic Users start going all out and oh yes are we going to do exactly that)
Oh, and assuming a stingy GM who isn't willing to let your party score major pay days. Gold doubles as XP in 1st edition. So if ya got a ton of cash, well, getting good and powerful happens a lot faster.
Huh, interesting. I'll try for a broader scope with Act 3 instead of the tightly packed D&D adventure that was act 2. You'll get a good idea of how things will unfold once we go through a few more events
Oh, one more thing. Gardy isn't trying to just up and disappear is he? I think the big reason why we can't go full fusion in realspace is because everyone "knows" Gardy is dead or otherwise lost to sands of time. If people start to believe he isn't and that we are Gardy, well, bestest buddy might just fade away.

We most certainly don't want that. Ask him if us going through with this will result in his permanent demise.
>Gardy isn't trying to just up and disappear is he?
He has something to guard for now, he won't leave his duty.
> I think the big reason why we can't go full fusion in realspace is because everyone "knows" Gardy is dead or otherwise lost to sands of time. If people start to believe he isn't and that we are Gardy, well, bestest buddy might just fade away.
Well well, interesting observation...
>Ask him if us going through with this will result in his permanent demise.
Hm, I honestly feel like writing a little update about that question but I really want to get things going after I get some sleep, so I'll answer.
''Not yet.'' is how he put it, dry and direct.
Alright, gonna write tomorrow with the answer I have, I was too tired to start things today. Got a bit distracted reading Muramasa, too.
I don't like that "Not Yet" answer. He might be willing to die but we most certainly don't want him to. He ought to be able to enjoy the modern world along side us.

Plus there's the very real chance that Devona isn't exactly dead. I believe that Armin bastard and us were involved and he mentioned her. A lead to be pursued once this current business he's keeping from happening is resolved. And hey, it dovetails nicely into our desire to kill Armin. We can help bestest buddy while also helping ourselves and the universe in general.
''Telling oneself to ''not think about something'' never work. It almost feels like a law of the universe.''

''I'm sorry, Arawn.'' Gardy adds a head tilt to his apology. He must have misunderstood your tone.

''Don't be. Gardy, what I truly hate after fearing for my loved ones is to suffer manipulations of my mind. Already had a taste of it, remember those Runes of Passages?'' Another nod, the light clicks on his face make you wonder if he has already deduced your intention. ''I'm a curious guy, you're right about that, but you give my mind too much praise. If this truth is dangerous to those I love, I'll avoid it. Once my worries diminish to the point curiosity about you is truly irresistible, I'll take you sealing my mind as a victory.''

His silence is one of contemplation. Without the closeness of your souls, guessing his mind is becoming increasingly complex, your faith in him won't diminish.

''Besides, I'm dreading you'll go and disappear on me. I can't forget any pieces of you, I still need to find some traces of Devona...''

''Arawn.'' You reach for his hand, but Gardy prudent backward step stops you. ''You have no duty to me.''

''I don't think getting some answers about your daughter is unreasonable. You're my friend, Gardy. It won't be a priority. I won't lose my head over it or make finding Devona more critical than keeping those I love safe... but I will remember your situation, too. It would be best if you didn't remove anything from my head.'' You gently tap your forehead with a metal-clad finger.

It's a shame your souls aren't joined anymore; the silence that permeates the room isn't heavy or uncomfortable. Gardy singular optic diminishes and increases in intensity at odd intervals while the protective metal on his face tense in contemplation.

''I... was prepared to force the alternative.'' His voice betrayed a second of vulnerable hesitation. ''My concern blinded me. Very well, Arawn; turn away from all the questions of last year's event, and train your mind. I will keep my peace with further encouragement to avoid sparking dangerous inquisitiveness.''

''Don't get too cozy reliving your glory days. I'm bound to return and ask you a few more things.''

Hid nods bring another silence, the strange pain Gardy body cause in your eyes forces your gaze to drift toward the strange orb. What could it be...?


Stop that at once, Arawn!

>Wish your friend peace with his reminiscence, and be on your way. Answers have been replaced with purpose: a more than unfair exchange.

>Take this opportunity to introduce Gardy to your lovers. They're all waiting outside.


Both answers will end the scene. You guys should start planning on which one should be next.
The orb is a question we'll answer in about a year after it's safe to do so. Also what strange pain? It hurts to look at him now?

Anyway, no reason to not introduce bestest buddy to our friends/lovers. The more people know he's alive by seeing him with their own eyes the harder it'll be for him to fade away now that he has both lost his body and is no longer anchored to our soul (which is why we decided to fuse with him in the first place to keep fuckery from happening to him).

Just tell em' to not touch or ask about the orb. Gardy's keeping people from doing that for a good reason and it's why we can't re-fuse with him just yet. It's like a nuclear bomb that's slowly being defused by his presence there. In about a year give or take the danger will have passed and it becomes a mere firecracker and we can both become whole again but until then don't tempt fate ladies. Thing might go off if ya look at it funny or even glance in its general direction metaphorically (and perhaps even literally) speaking.

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