You are Mouse, the ogre. Although raised by humans you found yourself in service of the dark elven queen - and with her blessing you have embarked on a quest to purge the corruption plaguing the very world you live in.You are not alone. Your mission is shared by an eclectic band of companions:-Phineous, the sophisticated orc of culture.-Smutkin, the formerly depraved bard who took your mission for his own-Sparky, the warped imp that took on affinity to holy magic-Tithe, the diminutive yet vigilant gargoyle-Chloe, the shadow of the queen sent to safeguard you and your mission.Your band has since grown to include human companions:-Elle, the royal courier-Harriet and Janet, the twin scoutsand the twin golems you've freed from their questionable service to the old order, they've accepted names you've given them: Diana and Minerva.For some time now your quest has been keeping you in the Cathedral Fortress, heart of the human alliance against the darkness - and yet, beneath the veneer of worship current reincarnation of the goddess is ostensibly receiving, also locus of conspiracy, corruption and recently a place that has endured an attempted coup. During a ceremonial service Celestine had organized the mercenary forces made an open attempt to assault her and seize power. With help of you and your friends, the attempt was foiled; what this would mean for the politics of human kingdom remains to be seen - for now you opted to pursue a promising lead that could propel you along your mission: conscious venture into a shadowy realm that you've previously seen in your dreams.As matters stand, you've agreed to Celestine's proposal to use her considerable power to help you in this particular endeavour. Accompanied by Chloe, your dark elven companion, your physical body is currently resting in the elven hierarch's private chambers while your consciousness, or soul - you're not quite clear on the terminology here - ventured into the unfamiliar plane.Currently, having followed signs of Beast activity, you find yourself in a shadowy mansion, presumably not far from the cathedral and your physical body, insofar such measurements make any amount of sense, confronting a group of black spectral hounds.
First strike you had landed on one of the hounds was spectacular, but sadly your adversary was quick to adapt. The ease with which the next dog was able to shatter the massive blade of light, which was presumably tied to the power Celestine had lent you for this adventure, was rather unsettling and perhaps a cause for further investigation, but not now. You were far from unarmed, and as the remaining hounds circled around, you carefully put stump of the radiant sword away and drew the dagger, a weapon dark and vicious, yet just like the sword, emanating a feeling of warmth and closeness as your fingers closed around the grip.Meanwhile, the hounds didn't choose to give you time to determine any elaborate maneuver. One of them lunged forward in a feint of an attack, luckily you were quick enough on your feet to adjust and when two others leapt at your flanks, you were no longer there. Instead, you allowed momentum of your movement to bring your weapon hand to side of one of the attacking beasts, intending to eviscerate it.You were rewarded with a pained yelp. But something wasn't right - although the weapon was easy to wield, and showed no signs of breaking, the sensation of contact was far from that of penetrating an animal's hide. As you steadied your stance, it became clear why that was the case - the hound was bruised, but otherwise unhurt.Disappointing.Although...You feel strangely calm about it all. One of your weapons broke, another seems to not have effects its form would suggest. Yet, there's still this feeling... it's not detached as it would be during a dream. No, this time, it's personal. Like they are here with you.Chloe, the outwardly cold and harsh half elven fighter, whose unwavering devotion to her queen and her duty supports and shelters the flickers of hope and compassion you've seen her to show.Celestine, the blazing little sun of inherited power wrapped in the soft warmth of the kindly elven priestess.Those two were nearest to you when you embarked into this particular foray into the realm of shadows. But in the back of your presence, however you would call it, you believe you can also feel support of your other companions and friends; your bond with them, and the faith, hope and care they chose to share with you.
Jaws snapping shut where your throat - or whatever your current form had - was just moments ago quickly interrupt any pondering you might have otherwise humoured. You allow your instincts to guide you along the flow of the fight. The dagger found its way back in its sheath and the next hound lunging towards you finds its tail grasped and its body being swung like a flail. This does seem to give the other two creatures pause, and after several swings of your unwilling weapon, one of them connecting to no apparent serious damage, the two hounds turn their tails and, with a parting snarl each, accelerate away.At the same time, the previously struggling creature you were holding grows perfectly limp, and as your gaze falls to examine it, disintegrates into wisps of smoke and dust, leaving your hand empty. Empty, but not unmarked - the shadowy dog did not feel wet or oily to touch, if such a sense existed in your current state, but you still perceived several smudges and stains on your hand where it held the creature, receding quickly.Off to the side, almost forgotten, an outline of a man fell on his knees, shaking and sobbing, bringing you back into the moment.>Attempt to pursue the fleeing hounds, they might lead you to someplace of interest...>Stick around, see if you can observe aftermath of your confrontation>Focus on the weapons. Their connection to you seemed natural, but manifestation of their power looked brittle. Perhaps you can do something about that?>Your work here is done. Navigate this peculiar plane somewhere else.>Your work here is done. Return to the material realm.>other plan
>>5729941>>Stick around, see if you can observe aftermath of your confrontationso we just fought of the influence the taint had on... these people. I wonder what have we prevented
>>5729941>Focus on the weapons. Their connection to you seemed natural, but manifestation of their power looked brittle. Perhaps you can do something about that?
>>5729941>Stick around, see if you can observe aftermath of your confrontation
>>5729941>Focus on the weapons.
Vision of events unfolding before you captivates you ever so briefly as the two remaining spectral hounds disappear into the ambient shadows, and you hesitate of a moment whether to stay and watch if you can discern anything from the aftermath. In the end, though, you decide that something else is of greater importance: the broken weapons. You shift your focus wholly on those instruments that have manifested alongside you, that you could trace directly to your companions. The structure around you faded into the background as your attention detached itself from it and you found yourself once again in a mostly featureless landscape, with the hilt of the sword in your hand and the dagger in its sheath.You focus on the sword first. Its effect on the first hound was nothing short of spectacular, yet when the beast retaliated, it proved extremely brittle. You were reminded of the effect mercenary mage's assault had on Celestine's magic earlier, or even before that, the assault of the infernal creatures the mage had summoned that penetrated barrier put up by Minerva. It was a phenomenon you read about earlier, where a dark power would unravel an expression of light, sometimes in ways that would defy measures of powers involved.It seemed natural to attribute this specific weakness to effect of the Taint.What did that mean for you? A most naive option would be that if you could muster enough power for an attack, could it be possible to purge the Taint through raw strength, making it unable to retaliate?You examined the stump of the blade. Hilt of the sword was as comfortable to handle as ever, the sensation of warmth in your hand reminded you a bit of Celestine's guileless smile, and that in turn brought back some memories of your own family. But now was not the time to reminisce. Your gaze moved up, to the cracked guard and a stump of the blade. Even now you could see embers of radiance shine through now otherwise mundanely looking metal(?)... as a matter of fact, the glow seemed to ebb slightly under your gaze, as your mind wandered among the possibilities and hypotheses. Looking around, you took note that fragments of the broken blade followed your presence out of the building and were scattered around, their dim light following pattern of the crippled weapon.Perhaps this was time to reminisce after all.
You spent next few moments - although it was notoriously difficult to keep track of time in this place - experimenting with your mind and emotions, trying to figure out if there was some stance, or thought, through which you could affect the weapon in a reliable manner, perhaps even reignite or reconstitute it. You found that although there were moments when you felt confident the space around you changed subtly, and there were also moments when the splinters of the blade flared up with renewed vigour, initial results were lackluster.First, you attempted to simply think, with varying amount of intensity and focus, on what you thought might have effect on the weapon. Celestine's gentle smile and voice. The sensation of power emanating from her as she purged the wizard's dungeon, even feeling of the touch of her body pressed against yours as you shielded her from the attack.You were somewhat confident that at times you felt the shards around you stir when you made one of those recollection. However, none of them seemed to have lasting effect on the weapon, which you still assumed was manifestation of power she had lent you.Were you even looking in the right place?Would you have been more successful, had you been attempting this during a fight?You were glad that you did not try. But even if you had, and were successful, that was not a very comforting thought. You didn't much like the notion of relying on a power that in turn would only manifest when you were under threat. How could you expect to control or at least direct such a force? Or rely on it not turning against you at most inopportune moment.Setting these thoughts aside you momentarily pass the broken sword into your other hand and take out the dagger which you've surmised stood for your connection to Chloe.The smaller, vicious blade had similarly comfortable grip as the sword, but that's where the similarities ended. Its blade was unbroken, as matte dark as it was when you first examined it. Touching its edge gently to test it, you find that the blade passes through your finger as if it wasn't there.It really didn't want to hurt you.At least that's what you'd like to think. However, if that was the case, why was the compact, vicious weapon so ineffective against the beasts? Was it just because shadow seemed weak against shadow? Or was there another reason? You could speculate that Celestine's blade's brittleness was due to her own powers' susceptibility towards dark. Perhaps there was similar effect at work here?Perhaps more to the point, did that mean the weapon would be useless against your adversary, even if it didn't break as Celestine's did?
You sigh internally and turn the dagger over in your hand, idly thinking back to connection you shared with Chloe. From the first moment you met her, as an impassive, deathly devoted to her queen, your first spar with her, begrudging respect you earned from her during your early career as an ogre knight, to the intensity of last few weeks of your shared adventure. You smiled internally as you thought back to how the solemn shadow of the dark elf queen became your companion and, you'd like to think, friend?Something changed.Not in your relationship, as it stood, but with the dagger. A glint on dagger's edge as if underlined it - there was no doubt, as you looked closer, the weapon seemed more "solid" now than it had been before.Could it be?You focus once again on your connection with the dark half-elf. You're still not entirely sure what exactly happened, but this time, the results are obvious enough. While the dagger retains its shadowy qualities, you note both a cold spark running along its length, indicative of a qualitative change, as well as growing ever so slightly opaque and tangible.You were onto something.Hastily, you brought up Celestine's sword and resumed your earlier experiment. But this time you do not satisfy yourself with bringing specifics of Celestine. You push onward and reach out, recalling the rapport you seem to have developed with the elven woman.And so your hypothesis becomes all but confirmed, you think to yourself as sparks of radiance pop up around you before swirling around your weapon hand. Despite your amazement at the spectacle, you don't let up or lose focus as the shards weave themselves together once more, coalescing into the shape of the original blade. The sword, once broken, begins to gradually resume its original form. Before long, the weapon is made whole again.You give it a few practice swings, it handles no worse than before.But is that enough?You had no immediate means of testing the blade, but you may have some time to experiment with it in a different manner...>Try to reach out through your connection to empower the weapon with some strength of your own>Try to lean on your connection and draw the strength hidden in the weapon to yourself>Focus on the connection itself, try to strengthen it, perhaps that will also reinforce the weapon?>That's enough experiments for now. You want to see something else in this place before you return to the physical realm... (what?)>other plan
>>5732093>>Try to reach out through your connection to empower the weapon with some strength of your own
>>5732093>Try to reach out through your connection to empower the weapon with some strength of your own
>>5732093>>Focus on the connection itself, try to strengthen it, perhaps that will also reinforce the weapon?
>>5734497nice name, anon
Power the blade held was formidable, you could tell that much. Not only recalling the effect it had when it struck, despite its apparent fragility. But now that you had consciously called it together, you had a sense, of sorts, for magnitude of the radiant power held in your hand.It was not enough.You didn't know how much power Celestine, or your other friends, could share, but to affect the pervading darkness all around you, you would need something else, or amount of power that was impossible for you to imagine.Still, that was hardly a reason not to at least make a small step in the desired direction. For a moment you just observed the weapon in your hand, trying to get a handle on what you were trying to accomplish. Then, once you felt confident that you had an idea, you exerted your will, pouring what you hoped would be some of your own strength to further bolster what was apparently a gift from the elven hierarch.Effect was gradual at first, but became increasingly apparent quickly enough. Although it was a difficult thing to gauge, you got the impression that blade's radiance grew ever so slightly in intensity, but the more obvious change manifested itself in shape of the blade. It grew, not by much, but also shifted in shape, from the elegant, straight blade, into a more savage looking, robust, serrated in places. It became... closer to what you imagine would be an ogre weapon, if your kind used bladed weapons.Again you gave the sword a few practice swings. Although satisfied with your effort having an effect, you nonetheless kept your enthusiasm in check. The weapon was undeniably stronger, but it was monstrous strength that reinforced it, originating in your nature, from strength of your muscles.You couldn't but remain skeptical if this particular kind of power would be enough to make a difference.Putting the sword away you focus on the dagger next. Perhaps more in order to see what happens and to see if you can replicate the feat, you repeat the procedure, pouring your strength into the connection you have with the half elven champion.This time, results are less flashy, even though increase in size is more pronounced. Trying its balance - there is no discernible change in that area, and you're not even certain to what extent physical characteristics and techniques even matter in this plane - you find yourself somewhat curious what effect the blade now would have on the hounds. Well, there was nothing to be done about that now.Or was there? Perhaps you could...Could...There's a discontinuity as the world around you gently transitions into a different kind of darkness.
Your eyes flutter open under rays of dawn's early light. There may be songbird singing outside, but you wouldn't notice that, more pressing sensations taking precedence.Sensations in question would be a pair of elves hugging you from either side, the warm softness of Celestine on your right, while lithe, toned form of Chloe rested against your left.It was not a bad position to be in. Although there was a small voice at the outskirts of your mind that you could no longer blame the cursed relic for, urging you to indulge in more than just enjoying closeness of the two women, you forcefully shut that thought off, which came surprisingly easy when you saw the elves' peaceful, relaxed expression. They felt safe in your presence.Sadly, as with many a good things, this too had to come to an end."Oh. It's dawn already." Celestine observed, stretching herself as she stood up. "Good morning, Mouse. I believe you were successful in your foray?"You barely began formulating an answer when a panicked "eeep!" announced sudden disappeareance of Chloe, and her equally abrupt emergence short distance away where she nonchalantly looked in your direction with a forcefully calm nod acknowledging your attention as it passed her way."Good morning. Indeed I have." You answer as you pick yourself up as well. "I have-"Before you can continue and relay an account of events, you are interrupted by sound of knocking."Please, come in." Celestine calls out without hesitation. The door opens and the knight, sir Frederick, steps inside and kneels reverently."My lady, please, forgive me for disturbing you. I bring urgent news." He said and looks at you expectantly."Perhaps we should leave." You take the hint."No, it's fine. Please, go on, sir knight." Celestine says."Ahem. There was an attempt on lord chancellor's life. Luckily it appears the knights dispatched to monitor the situation have foiled the attempt. Culprit seems to be none other than councillor Rowan himself.""Oh my... how horrible!" Celestine is taken aback by the news."...there's... one more detail." Frederick says after a brief moment of hesitation, but before making a move to leave. "The failed assassin claims to have been struck by goddess's light and wishes to make amends before the lady." At that Celestine casts a look your way. Frederick makes no sign of noticing as he goes on: "It's preposterous, of course, but he will-"
"I'll see him." The elven hierarch interrupts."My lady-" Frederick protests feebly."There is no need to worry, sir Frederick, and you can be present to protect me. But the man speaks the truth. Divine light has indeed split a darkness this night.""R-really? I, I mean, by your will, my lady." Frederick says, visibly confused. "Er, that concludes my report. By your leave, I'll see about the necessary arrangements.""Thank you for your service."With that the knight rises to his feet and backpedals awkwardly out of the chamber. He did give you and Chloe one more glare before leaving, but as far as you could tell he seemed somewhat more relaxed than in the evening. Or perhaps relieved would be a better term."Mouse, it was you, wasn't it? I could feel the stirring in the night. What happened?""It's possible." You say. "This is what happened, when my meditation began to take effect, I was once more cast into the realm of shadows, and there I have heard the baying of hounds..."And so you give the two elves account of your last night's experience. With some hesitation you chose not to omit details such as the effect of individual weapons you've come to associate with the two women's support for your endeavour - even though Chloe looked visibly disheartened by learning 'her' dagger seemed to have minimal effect on the shadowy beasts. After all, you valued their input, and how could you expect them to offer you good counsel if they offered it on incorrect assumptions?"I see... so that is what I felt." Celestine nods as you conclude your tale by speaking of your attempts to strengthen the blades. Chloe also absently nods, her stone mask of an expression doing respectable job of hiding the distraught look in her eyes. "It seems the support our friendship offers you is not something we can truly separate ourselves. When you decided to actively reinforce the help we were offering, we could feel some of your own essence brush against ours." Celestine explains, either oblivious or carefully treading around Chloe's concerns. "I think you're correct in that the raw strength you wielded won't be enough to strike at the heart of the Taint." The fair skinned elf says with serious expression. "Especially, considering how vulnerable the light seems to be against the darkness." She adds with a sigh, then looks at you with resolve that seems to give her gaze an almost uncharacteristical, eerie, hardness. "But Mouse, you have already beaten the Taint nonchalantly. I still believe that what you need... you already carry within your heart."
"I don't suppose you could be more specific?" You ask."I'm sorry, Mouse... I wish I could but, in all honesty, it's more of a feeling than something I truly know.""Wishful thinking?" Chloe offered. "Or your powers, which we know to be a trap?"Celestine looks at the dark half-elf with no hint of enmity. "It's... not impossible. But I don't think so. It's a conviction I can't truly explain... but I know it's not manifestation of my powers, that much I can guarantee."To her credit, Chloe keeps herself from scoffing. There's a moment of silence where you briefly contemplate your next steps. Before you determine your options, Celestine turns to the window."I need to prepare myself for the morning service. Mouse, if you'd like to have me help you with the meditation again, please come again in the evening. Or seek me out anytime throughout the day if you find something I could help with." The elf said, presumably after she confirmed position of sun above the horizon."I will keep that in mind. Thank you, Lady-" You respond, but at her somewhat bemused expression, you correct yourself: "Thank you, Celestine." To which she responds with an earnest smile. "Let's go." You turn to Chloe.With that, the two of you depart, leaving the reincarnation of the goddess to her duties.It was time to get busy.>Head to your suites and convene with your companions.>Head to the library, there's always more to study>Maybe you could track down the dwarf and see how he's progressing.>After the eventful yesterday perhaps you would be justified in taking at least the morning off. Perhaps you could also spend it with someone?>other idea
>>5735558>Head to your suites and convene with your companions.Time to tell to them how we can beat the taint with the power of friendship.
>>5735558>Head to your suites and convene with your companions.>>5735579a classic
>>5735558>After the eventful yesterday perhaps you would be justified in taking at least the morning off. Perhaps you could also spend it with someone?We do need to unwind at some point.
>>5735558>>Head to your suites and convene with your companions.
>>5735558>>After the eventful yesterday perhaps you would be justified in taking at least the morning off. Perhaps you could also spend it with someone?
"Let's head to our rooms. The team needs to be updated on new possibilities now open to us.""Do you have a plan? I thought the power... Celestine's I mean, wasn't enough either?" Chloe asks, with the two golems falling in behind you."I'm not sure yet," You admit. "But this encounter confirmed that this... other plane... may be a viable avenue of attack for us. More than that, it showed that the bonds between us make us stronger, and expand on options, in ways that go past what is readily apparent.""...at least as long as the one you're bonded with is a goddess of light..." Chloe muttered under her breath."Don't sell yourself short, Chloe." you reach out and squeeze her shoulder gently. She stiffens at the gesture but makes no move to escape and eases up a little after a moment of hesitation. "I could feel your support out there, and I value it far beyond events of that one fight. Besides, there is still much we don't know. Perhaps including ways of wielding your strength against the Beast.""My strength, huh..." Chloe muses. "Mouse, all strength I have... is my Queen's.""Your dedication is admirable, Chloe. But I still believe that you give of your own no less than you receive."Chloe doesn't reply, other than with a furtive smile that passes too quickly for you to be able to tell whether it was heartfelt, or bittersweet. Rest of the trip is spent in silence.After a brief walk that's uninterrupted by any chance encounters - the people you do meet either stay clear out of your path or even greet you respectfully. You must have been by now fully recognized as Celestine's friend or perhaps follower, even as an ogre.It felt rather good. You wish your parents could see it...
When you arrive you are pleased to note that you won't have to deputize some of your companions to round up the rest of them as everyone except for Tithe seems to be present, and the gargoyle is easily enough summoned by leaning out of the window and gesturing for him to come over.As for the rest...Phineous seems to have requisitioned some art supplies and was busy painting something. Smutkin was resting comfortably in a recliner chair, leafing through a book, with several more stacked on a stand next to him. Elle, Janet and Harriet were gathered around a table with several maps laid out, discussing something. Sparky was nowhere to be seen, although soft snoring from his pillow fort suggested that the imp was still resting after last day's exertions.Your companions acknowledge your arrival with a disjointed chorus of "Boss", "Leader" and "Sir!""Alright, time for a brief council." You announce after putting them at ease with a gesture and summoning the gargoyle.Once everyone's settled, you speak up. "As you know, we've made a breakthrough yesterday on pinpointing destination of our quest, or at very least a very promising objective.""Atlassia." Smutkin nods."Precisely.""Does that mean we have some confirmation already?" The bard asks."Not specifically in terms of more exact or refined intelligence, no. We are still going to need to scout the place out in person. However, the magical experiment Celestine had suggested to us yesterday was a confirmed success, expanding our options of striking directly at the source of the Taint itself - purification of the relic recovered from the ruins is now confirmed to not having been a fluke, and the hunches that allowed us to guide our efforts in localizing our objectives were more than just hunches.""So you did it, boss? You achieved the transcendence?" Phineous asks in reverent tone."With help of Celestine's considerable employment of magic, but yes. What's more, apparently my activity had translated directly into material world."
With that you give an account of your experiences in the shadowy realm, up to the point where the temple guard confirmed that events you intervened in were in fact taking place."Impressive. Do you think that your confrontation with the hounds led to the man's change of heart?" Smutkin inquires."That's what I think. My guess is that the Taint was actively pushing the councillor towards this course of action, and my chasing its agents away allowed the man to come to his senses.""I see..." The bard hums. "But does that mean we can simply walk to Atlassia and confront the source of the Taint directly... assuming it's actually there? Forgive me, leader, but that sounds... just too naive.""You're right. Nothing's probably going to be quite that simple." You shake your head. "We still have work ahead of us to figure things out, starting with but not limited to learning more about the power we can effect through this... method.""We, sir?" Elle asks. "Pardon me, but what can we even do? You're the only one who had those visions and abilities.""That's why I wanted to talk to all of you. Firstly, given that the concept is not entirely alien to the scholars or mystics, it may be possible for you to achieve the same. It may even be necessary, should something go wrong for me.""Don't worry, boss. We won't let you fall." Sparky says."Thank you, but still. Regardless, there was another thing. As I said, the weapons that manifested I believe to be tied directly to the friends that were close to me during the experiment. That means that even if you're not with me as companions, I can still be supported by power of my friends reaching to me. That is another potential source of power for us to achieve our goal."
"You say you needed both Chloe and lady Celestine right next to you..." Phineous says. "Does that mean we're going to have to sleep in one big pile from now on?""P-pile?" Elle echoes with worried look darting between you and the others."I'm ready to do whatever it takes." Janet said, his voice firm with resolve. Harriet placed an arm around her twin brother. "You can count on us, sir Mouse." She says."Well, me too, obviously, it's just..." Elle adds quickly."I appreciate your commitment." You nod. "But there are other things for us to do first. For instance, I do not know whether physical contact was a factor or just proximity or even just conscious intent. Besides, I was capable of this... shift... specifically because Celestine's help now, and rather extreme circumstances previously.""I think I can do it, boss. My light is not as strong as the shining lady's, but I've been practicing!" Sparky says enthusiastically. "We could even try right now!""We can lend our power.""We can also lend our power." The two golems speak up together."I was worried when I saw the fiend disperse my arts so easily..." Minerva says."But we have felt you wield the power of the Lady." Diana adds."We have faith in you, Mouse." Minerva concludes."Thank you." You acknowledge the golems. Well, it seems your companions were quite ready to support you, even right now. But there were also other things you could be doing with the sun up, this could easily wait for the night time.>Do it now. Attempt to have Sparky help you meditate with rest of your company with you.>No, you will first try to meditate alone, just with Sparky's help. Besides, it is possible that the intent of your friends is all it takes.>No, you want for your companions to attempt to meditate themselves. It would be more beneficial for you to have them with you as their conscious selves, not just as tools. If that is even possible though...>This can wait for the evening. For now you will head to the library and do some more research (optional & recommended: choose topic)>This can wait for the evening. For now you want to check on your princess friends (optional & recommended: whomst?)>This can wait for the evening. You did quite a lot of work recently and you could take the chance to relax a bit (optional: with someone specific?)>other idea
>>5740301>Do it now. Attempt to have Sparky help you meditate with rest of your company with you.One experiment at a time. First we see of Sparky can do it, then later we can see of physical contact and proximity is required, and lastly if othera can do it as well.
>>5740301>>Do it now. Attempt to have Sparky help you meditate with rest of your company with you.
>>5740301>This can wait for the evening. You did quite a lot of work recently and you could take the chance to relax a bitI stand by the idea that we should take a break.
>>5740301>This can wait for the evening. For now you want to check on your princess friends
>>5740301>This can wait for the evening. For now you want to check on your princess friends. >Celestine, then Alicia and prim
>>5740301>Do it now. Attempt to have Sparky help you meditate with rest of your company with you.
>>5740301> > Do it now. Attempt to have Sparky help you meditate with rest of your company with you.
>>5745743Not yet, just looking where to squeeze time in to write.
>>5745823>usurper of the beachBeach episode when?
Well, there was not much reason to put it off when at least part of the audience was eager, and everyone willing. However, you'd at least try to approach the matter in somewhat systematic manner."Very well, then, I'd like to make an experiment. Sparky, I'm going to need you to try your best. As for the others, let's start with simple intent. Your wish to support me, your wish for the quest's successful conclusion, your hopes... I'd like everyone of you to reach out according to your own feelings, thoughts or intuition. Is that sufficiently clear an instruction? Are you all ready?"There's a round of acknowledging nods."Alright. Let's begin." You say and settle down on the carpet that covered much of the common area in the room, and close your eyes, shutting off some of the distractions."Sparky." You call on the imp, and turn your mind towards that strange shadowy layer of the reality...You can feel it coming. You've become fairly confident in recognizing, at the very least, the light-aligned magical energy, if present in the ambience in sufficient concentrations. In that respect, Sparky's exertions, as strange as it was from an imp, checked out. The magnitude was nowhere near when Celestine was being serious, but you could still tell it was a formidable package the eager little creature was sporting. Hopefully, it would be enough.Relaxing, you allow yourself to be carried away by the wave of energy passing through you.This time, you can briefly catch it once again. The hints of the darkness along the edges of the light. The pervasive taint, warping even the very force that was thought to represent purity, often associated with selflessness, righteousness, hope or innocence. All the concepts that, as queen Olga had told you, were allowed to exist only to make their eventual defacement all the more dramatic, the descent into despair more profound.Would that be your fate as well? Would the sliver of hope eventually slip between your fingers as the darkness enveloped you?No.You owed it to those around you. To your friends and companions. To your queen you owed your life.You owed it to your family that took you in and never gave up on hope even in their dying breaths.And of course you owed it to yourself.Perhaps this reaffirmation of your resolve helped, but in either case, as soon as you're done thinking on it, you find yourself once again in the by now familiar landscape.
Once again you begin with inspection of your self. Possibly the first, most obvious fact, that's nonetheless a bit of a pleasant surprise, is the familiar sword of light at your side. You draw the weapon and look at it closer - it's without a doubt the one you've ascribed to Celestine's support, and you take it as a proof that physical proximity is not a necessity for the bond to exist.Closer inspection of the blade reveals almost imperceptible tendrils of darkness running and webbing throughout the weapon - signs of its previous breakage, or a cause for it, the inherent weakness posed by the Taint?As before, you are not shaken by this revelation. This may have been manifestation of the power wielded by inheritor of the goddess, but the essence of the help she chose to offer, that one was untouched by the blemish and you felt it press comfortably against back of your mind. Which brought you back to the reason why you were here now in the first place - Celestine's, and Chloe's, as the dagger was also in its sheath at your side, were not by far alone.You could feel them all. Or perhaps if not their selves, for certain their sincere support for you and for your cause. It was as if you could extend your hand, and you'd be able to take theirs, even if this connection did not for some reason manifest as weapons as was the case with the two elves...What's more, you can feel more than just your companions in that manner. As you examine these sources of your strength, unbidden, to your mind come also the princesses - Alicia, Prim, Claudia... as well as Klaus, and even your queen Olga. And even further back, there were others, such as Claudia's soldiers, or nuns from Alicia's fortress... and others, you couldn't all name, but all bore faint hint of familiarity...>Looks like the experiment was a success. Perhaps you can take the chance to look around in this plane again, now?>Looks like the experiment was a success. Perhaps you could take the chance in this plane to look for the imprisoned woman Celestine seemed to recognize?>Looks like the experiment was a success. Perhaps you could return to the material plane and do something else (what?)>Try to reach out to someone in particular from among your connections (who?)>There was actually something else you wanted to try... (what?)>other idea
>>5745826Hmmm...Maybe if we all live long enough to see this story reach its conclusion... I'm somewhat hopeful.although to be fair I'm not convinced I could give it justice. This kind of thing after all works better in VN/anime format...
>>5746413>>Looks like the experiment was a success. Perhaps you could take the chance in this plane to look for the imprisoned woman Celestine seemed to recognize?
>>5746413>Looks like the experiment was a success. Perhaps you could return to the material plane and do something else (what?)Now let's see if they being nearby is necessary
>>5746450Actually, nevermind, we already have proof of thatI'll change to>Looks like the experiment was a success. Perhaps you can take the chance to look around in this plane again, now?
>>5746413>Looks like the experiment was a success. Perhaps you could take the chance in this plane to look for the imprisoned woman Celestine seemed to recognize?
>>5746413>>Try to reach out to someone in particular from among your connections (Elle)
> >Looks like the experiment was a success. Perhaps you could take the chance in this plane to look for the imprisoned woman Celestine seemed to recognize?
Well, you got the answer you were hoping for. You don't think anyone will be disappointed by missing out on cuddle piles with an ogre, so that is good news. However, were you to further refine your experiment you would have to awaken, and a thought occurs to you that your current state opened up a possibility worth pursuing: the woman you've met in your dream, the one captured by the Taint. You seemed to manage to momentarily free her there and then, only long enough for her to ask you a few questions but you didn't really have time to discuss with her before the Beast confronted you and you were ejected back into the waking world.Even more strangely, Celestine had apparently recognized the woman as her divine (spiritual?) ancestor. What's more, Celestine still claims to have connection to her despite her capture. Was that a sign that Beast's control had its limits, or was it tied to corruption tainting Celestine's powers? Or perhaps reality of her imprisonment was subjective only to your perspective? But if your perspective was so distinct, would you be able to impact the real world just this night?There were still too many confusing questions going around giving you a headache, and now you had a chance to do something to shed some light on the affair. Possibly quite literally.There is a hurdle, however. You have no idea where to actually begin looking. Of course you can't allow that to deter you as you recall the peculiar way in which the world around you responds to your focus and attention - if structures could manifest that way, why not a hint for a direction, or perhaps even a pathway?And so you do. You turn your mind specifically to the moment where the dark creeping corruption withdrew to reveal the captive woman. You're not sure how long or how intensely you keep at it until......nothing happens. Your surroundings remain impassive to your queries. You're almost ready to write the attempt off as a failure, if not for a soft, nagging feeling... you're not sure if it comes from yourself, Celestine's connection to the woman, or perhaps sharpened senses of your friends and companions such as Tithe, Chloe or the twin scouts, but for one reason or another you find yourself compelled to face in a particular direction.Upon further reflection you realize it seems to align with the direction to Atlassia, your next destination, but set self-reproach for not thinking of that yourself in the first place aside and step forward in the desired direction.This time, the world *does* change.
Although it's difficult to tell in the shadow realm, you feel as the features outside of your path lose features as you proceed. There is no other place, but the path forward, and you take it. One step after another, in the timeless realm with no sun or stars or moon to guide you, only your instinct.And as you trudge onward, you come to realize that each step is ever so slightly more difficult than the next.Is that because you are getting further away from your physical body and those of your friends? Or was it because you were descending deeper into some sort of tenebrous molasses?The resistance is not nearly enough to even begin deterring you and you march onward, the shadows around you deepening, the air, or whatever passes for it here, growing tenser with malicious presence, that nonetheless doesn't seem to be directed specifically at you.Perhaps that means you're undetected.Perhaps that means you're beneath its notice.Perhaps it's something of both.As your mind attempts to make sense of your experiences, your presence continues to push ahead, though it's impossible to tell the distance. In fact, you wonder if the road you cover doesn't have less to do with distance and more with gradient of the ambient Taint.Be that as it may, it is not long after you begin to ask yourself if there is an end to this route that a spark of light appears before you. Invigorated, you pick up the pace... only to immediately drop it again as your reason catches up.If your enemy does not know, or seem to care, of your approach, perhaps it would be better to keep it that way?With that in mind, you divert your attention from single minded pursuit to intent of remaining undetected. You actively focus on trying to leave as little a footprint as you can, and your presence reflects this by retracting the aura of light around you, your weapons growing dim and mundane, support and presence of your friends and companions withdrawing closer around your heart of hearts.As if to confirm your reasoning, you find your movements suddenly ease, and you're able to slip forward rapidly, closing whatever it was that separated you from the lone light ahead. You glide forward, noiselessly, and before long the image before you resolves into details that interest you.
Two figures stand before you, enclosed in a zone of, well, not exactly light, as rather absence of darkness that would obscure them. Whatever force is allowing you to actually perceive them seems to be, for now at least, beyond your comprehension. But that's an issue much too secondary to what's unfolding before you, which seems to be some sort of conversation.One of the participants was a woman, a beautiful, radiant being whose soft curves begged to be embraced, unblemished was her skin and hair like a waterfall of liquid light. Oddly enough, you can't make out particular features, such as pointed elven ears, while at the same time unable to tell they aren't there. One thing however asserts itself in your mind - this is the progenitor Celestine was referring to. And what was more worrying, was a network of black tendrils weaving around her in ways that were difficult to track and impossible to mention.The other was the colossal hound you've already met, it loomed over both of you, its oily coat of fur somehow dripping into tendrils that bound the goddess, like some perversion of a puppet and a puppeteer.Neither seemed to give any indication of being aware of your presence."I do not know. You know I am not capable of hiding anything from you." The woman said in a resigned tone."And yet here we are, champion of that pathetic force you are meant to command, repeatedly scorning me and spoiling my enjoyment.""He is not my champion. I know nothing. I have nothing to tell you." The woman replied."Don't you dare mock me with your defiance, bitch! If those last millennia were not enough to teach you your place, the eternity ahead of you surely will!" The hound roared and body of the woman spasmed under onslaught of pulsating blackness that would have made you nauseous if you had a stomach in this state.The torment did not take more than a few moments, and while the woman looked like a wreck for a brief moment, her form quickly regained its pristine, graceful state."Now tell me, bitch, who is that aberrant, and how did he obtain his power?""I do not know. You know-"And at this moment you realize that what you are looking at is a loop, perhaps representing interaction between the captive goddess and the originator of the Taint.The question now was, was there something you could *do* about it?>You can't, won't abide this. You are here, and you will strike at the beast with all that you have.>Discretion is the better part of valour. You still have scant idea how you were capable of withstanding Beast's previous assault, it's better to leave now and return wiser.>Maybe... you don't feel confident enough to confront the beast in earnest, but your moment of surprise could at least allow you to seize an immensely valuable prize from him?>other idea...
>>5750199>Maybe... you don't feel confident enough to confront the beast in earnest, but your moment of surprise could at least allow you to seize an immensely valuable prize from him?
>>5750199>Discretion is the better part of valour. You still have scant idea how you were capable of withstanding Beast's previous assault, it's better to leave now and return wiser.
>>5750199>>Maybe... you don't feel confident enough to confront the beast in earnest, but your moment of surprise could at least allow you to seize an immensely valuable prize from him?
Should we archive this while we wait for the QM's return?
>>5755495wait until we go to page 9
The wise thing would be to leave quietly. It would be a sensible thing to do. Even as overwhelmed as you may have been by this sudden introduction into a realm beyond physical force which you, as an ogre, were quite intimate with, you were not as conceited as to think you were in position to challenge the beast before you to anything resembling a fair fight, despite your previous encounters. Whether it was just luck, or some other, unknown variable, that allowed you to get to this point unscathed, you would not push it.But even still...You found yourself gripping your blade firmly as the loop playing out before you reached again the point of torment.No, you could not simply leave. Whether it was only the emotion that seeing someone suffer wanton cruelty, or perhaps a genuine calculus of what benefits such a move this might bring, you put your inner rage to constructive use and a plan begins to form.Next time the scene plays out before you, just as the monster commits its strength towards torturing the woman, you burst into action yourself. And as you do, the ambience shifts around you. The brief moment just before you launch yourself forward is completely still, as if the world around you took breath. Then, unbidden, but not unwelcome, a melody begins to play.It's a tune you remember Smutkin to have practiced. Back in the black citadel, when you urged him to pick up his flute for benefit of your team, it was only with sentimental undertones, subdued, as a wistful dream slipping between one's fingers. More recently, since you've departed Alicia's fortress, he played the tune more confidently, though still only as a practice melody during longer rests.Now, as you descended upon the tensing tendrils of darkness, your sword igniting with multiple times the ferocity it did just the night before, it was from your perspective in slow motion as the tempo picked gradually up, as did the intensity of light around you, distorting the scene and making it even more grotesque as the shadowy tendrils were joined by actual shadows, and the beast slowly refocused to track the interloper.
Too slowly.Your blade falls like an headsman's axe, leaving trail of ashes and embers burst into a cloud, giving the scene a reddish tint.The beast wailed. It wailed in indignance. It wailed in rage. It wailed in surprise. But for now, most importantly, it wailed in pain. The severed tendrils seemed cauterized, for whatever bizarre way that could work for a metaphysical metaphor - it just did. And as the pulses of pitch black bundled pain intended for the captured goddess reached the stumps, the pain turned into agony of its own originator.You did not make a mistake of sticking around to see if the aftermath stuck. Counting on your enemy being too incapacitated was a risk you could not currently afford yourself. Instead, you turned to the woman, staring at you with surprise and bewilderment.There is no time to ask her for consent so you simply grab her, and instinctively pull her over your shoulder.The sensation is not like anything you expected. Not only is the sense of touch off, telling you of light and warmth rather than haptics of skin and flesh, it also surprises you how massive effort it seems to take to move her, and doubly so that you're capable of exerting it in the same split moment that you decide to do so, as if your strength adapted spontaneously to the task before you.Needless to say you can't afford to ruminate on these issues either. Rather, you focus all your power into another burst of movement that would turn into a regular run as soon as you managed to sort yourself out. And the tune in your eyes accommodated this desire, shifting for one Smutkin would toot during chases or hasty retreat.It's a good thing you did, too, as the beast apparently didn't waste any time in overcoming the initial shock of your onslaught. The area where you just were a moment ago has been struck with a barrage of concentrated blackness. The strange explosion of mystic light briefly drained your own warmth even while only glancing you with some outlying strands. You're not sure what would've happened, had you taken the attack head on and for now you're happy to not find out as you begin to weave and dance to the tune that becomes cheerful, almost whimsical, as it accompanies you and your precious cargo.
Jump, jump, dodge. Step, step, evade. You settle in a rhythm to the point where you begin to worry if the music won't allow your enemy to better track you, but that doesn't seem to be the case at all. Whether it be because you are the only one hearing it, or due to the enemy's inability you don't dare guess, but neither will you question your good fortune as the tune shifts again into a downright comedic melody.The wails behind you in the meantime continue to shake the landscape, the pain all but gone as the beast apparently regained its composure, but the rage and frustration more than made up for the change in emphasis. The space around you grew thick with lumps of coalesced blackness; where previously the thickening darkness seemed indifferent to your approach, it now churned and roiled, seeking to actively get in your way. At first you had no issues simply burning through them with the "aura" of light you seemed to have been carrying with you and that was positively aflame ever since you jumped into action. However, it seemed it too had its limits, as the ever-present tendrils slowly began to wrap around and suffocate it, drawing nearer even as you continued your escape.Luckily it seemed you need not have worried. About the same time as you began to realize the encroaching danger, you felt a different kind of darkness wash over you, like a protective veil obscuring you from unwanted view. Whether you owed this particular effect to Chloe or the scouts or someone else entirely, it came in exactly as it was needed and allowed you to slip between the grasping shadows, leaving the increasingly frustrated baying behind you for good.You don't stop.
You are unsure how much time had passed since the sounds of pursuit had died and you are alone in the darkness again.No, not alone. There's a stirring in the sensation of softness over your shoulder and you become acutely aware of warm, breath and heartbeat that are not your own.You come to a stop and adjust your stance, then carefully, gently, kneel down to lay the luminous woman into a sitting position without risking her harm. She appears unresponsive for brief moment, but blinks and locks gazes with you, confirming she's indeed awake, if perhaps shocked, surprised and confused."You... interloper. Aberrant. No, no, you saved me, you don't deserve such titles... you are... what are you?" When you're unsure how to immediately respond, she continues. "You have seized me from the Beast... are you then to be my master now?""Master?" You blink. "No, I...">...just wanted to save you from that fate>...need to ask for your wisdom>...am the enemy of that monster and the Taint it stands for>...couldn't bear watching mother of the one I love suffer [HARD ROUTELOCK: Celestine]>other response
>>5755495>>5756147thank you for your consideration friends. Although /qst/ tends to be slow enough that waiting for page 10 is safe enough.
>>5756440>...just wanted to save you from that fate
>>5756440>...just wanted to save you from that fatengl the routelock is tempting
>>5756440>>...couldn't bear watching mother of the one I love suffer [HARD ROUTELOCK: Celestine]i'm obligated to vote for this.
>>5756852The moment I saw that option, I was waiting for you to show up.
>>5756440>...am the enemy of that monster and the Taint it stands for
>>5756440Changing my vote from >>5756986 to>...just wanted to save you from that fateChoice 2 and 3 are way too dispassionate to be in-character for someone like Mouse, and as an Olgafag I cannot in my good conscience get routelocked to Celestine.Captcha: GAKKPHStay vigilant, Phineous
"...just wanted to save you from that fate." You reply without thinking. Even if you did hope your brazen decision would allow you to glean some interesting insights, the truth was that you could not bear to watch her suffer, and the idea she had to endure this for time that reached back past any human history made your blood boil, metaphorically speaking.The woman looks at you with a mixture of wonder, gratitude and confusion."You would defy the fate... the world itself?" She asks in a gentle tone, and you try to get a better look at her. The overall impression is very similar to Celestine, one of warmth and softness, but for reason you cannot begin to describe you are hard pressed to make out any particular features. It's like trying to look into the sun only for it to burn out your eyes, except without the pain and it seems you had no lasting damage from the attempt. "Defier..." she whispers softly. You get the feeling she wants to say or ask more, but there's a change in ambience."Mouse..." comes a distant voice, and it resonates with the bonds you share with your friends that you carry with you."They are calling you back to your shell, defier... I shall await your return." The radiant woman tells you as you feel the shadowy landscape around you crumble as you're pushed back out and into your physical body. All the questions you would like to ask her flit through your mind, but they will have to wait for another opportunity."Please be careful." You manage to call out before you're ejected from the shadowlands. A sad, mysterious smile is the last impression you are left with of this transcendental foray.
"Mouse!" You feel firm grasp of Chloe's slender, nimble fingers digging into your skin. "Get up already!""Lady Chloe, you can ease off now. He's clearly awake." Smutkin says calmly."Hmpf." The elf vocalizes. "Mouse, what were you doing?" She looks you in the eye. "There were wisps of shadow swirling around you. Sparky tried to hit them with some light magic, but it didn't do anything. Then it ended and you looked at peace, but maybe a bit too much. I-we were worried.""They seemed to emerge from air around you, then dissipate upon touching you, sir." Smutkin adds."I'm sorry, boss..." Sparky says. "It was scary and I couldn't do anything."You reach out to stroke the imp's head. "You did plenty. It all worked out... I think." You assure him, and are rewarded by a toothy grin."Sure did boss, you smell really good right now." The little creature says.You frown at that. In the past, the imp used this turn of phrase to talk about light-aligned magical effects. Did that have to do with your encounter with the goddess? It seemed obvious the shadowy wisps were related to your confrontation..."Right now? As in, continuously?" You ask the imp for clarification."Um, about since the shadows disappeared." Sparky scratched its head."Boss, do you know what that was about?" Phineous asks. "Did you have an epic fight with the taint in the transcendental plane?"You can't help but grin."You could say that." You say as your mind goes back to the goddess you've snatched straight from the clutches of the beast... or at least, you think you have. There were still things you didn't know or understand of what happened.You feel a gentle, warm presence against back of your mind. You instinctively reach back out, entertaining the sense of closeness you haven't genuinely felt since your own mother took you into an embrace.Wait, what was that?
There's a marked shift in the mood in the room. Everyone's eyes are on you with an expression somewhere on spectrum between surprised and in awe, which was especially true for the twin scouts. Even the normally reserved bard was staring wide eyed."Boss... you're glowing." Phineous is the one to break the silence.Looking down you join your companions in surprise. Indeed it seems that there's a faint shimmer of an aura of some sort you can discern. Luckily it doesn't seem to impair your vision any - you wonder if the effect is more pronounced for other spectators.You notice it to ebb and fluctuate, and you notice it does so in conjunction with the warm presence.The moment is interrupted by sound of knocking."Come in." You respond when nobody reacts and the knock is repeated. At your voice the door opens and a knight enters. If at first he is intimidated by seeing your entire entourage gathered in the room with you he doesn't let it know - although that may be because the knight too is taken aback by your still radiant visage."S-sir... your presence is... requested, at a council meeting, tonight, before sunset... by request of the Lady herself..." The man stammers once he remembers his task. Then he backs out, bowing reverently."Huh. Look at them, you start to glow and suddenly you're not a monster anymore." Chloe remarks dryly."Boss, come on, tell us what happened." Phineous begs."The mark of the goddess is upon him." Minerva answers."She is with us in a way we couldn't imagine before." Diana adds.Rest of the eyes turn back to you in anticipation. It seems your immediate agenda is set.Even so, as you recount tale of your adventure, you know you will have to decide what to do next. You should still have enough time for maybe one thing before going to that meeting, assuming you decide to honour this request.>Seek out Celestine, she will definitely want to know the news of your exploits, if she hadn't felt them somehow.>Seek out one of the other princesses, see if they have an idea what this council meeting is supposed to be about.>Sparky looks tired and probably won't be able to help you this time, but perhaps you could try meditating on your own. You really need some answers from that goddess.>All this mental work has left you quite hungry. Take your team and raid some larder, or perhaps intercept a servant and have something brought here.>Seek out / do something else entirely... (who/what?)
>>5758651>>Seek out one of the other princesses, see if they have an idea what this council meeting is supposed to be about.Alice and Prim if possible, though we haven't talked to Maia yet
>>5758651>All this mental work has left you quite hungry. Take your team and raid some larder, or perhaps intercept a servant and have something brought here.The council is probably going to be about all the things we just pulled of, so no need to bother the princesses or Celestine before it happens.
>>5758651>>Seek out Celestine, she will definitely want to know the news of your exploits, if she hadn't felt them somehow.
>>5758651>All this mental work has left you quite hungry. Take your team and raid some larder, or perhaps intercept a servant and have something brought here.The paladin ogre must eat
>>5758651>All this mental work has left you quite hungry. Take your team and raid some larder, or perhaps intercept a servant and have something brought here.Everyone empowered by the Goddess probably felt something when their divine liege suddenly got more powerful so asking Alicia or Prim would probably give the same answer as what Minerva and Dia just told us, while trying to meditate without Sparky still sounds a bit too risky. What we do need, though, is a good day's rest: we've been burning midnight oil ever since we cleaned out that accursed basement, and our next objective after the conference is more likely than not to be a recon mission on Atlassia itself - plus, we probably need to make us more presentable if we are to stand before a conference, so grab a snack (or five, or ten, depending on who's present and who else got hungry), take a nap (if needed), spar a bit with our team, and get a good soak in the bath if it's still open to us; we need a day for ourselves, and we'll probably go on a long trip soon.
>>5758651>All this mental work has left you quite hungry. Take your team and raid some larder, or perhaps intercept a servant and have something brought here.
It takes a little bit to tell your company of how you apparently rescued at least the goddess from the clutches of the Beast armed with power of Friendship.Hearing yourself tell the tale makes you doubt if that's what really happened. It just sounds so conceited to think you'd simply stroll into the dark and snatch a goddess away from her captor. Yet that's exactly what seems to have happened, and your companions listen to your tale holding their breath, from your dive into the unknown darkness, through the interaction you've witnessed and to your decision to interfere.You make sure not to omit any of the influences or supportive effects you've felt from your comrades. At least to that effect you have no doubts - their assistance, conscious or not, provided very real benefits, and you wanted your friends to know that. If their bashful expressions (or in Chloe's case, smug grin) meant anything then you know they appreciated the feedback.Even so, despite the apparent glow (which you seemed to be able to bring out at will, or subdue it. Whether it was some sort of boon of the goddess or her presence staying around or something else entirely would remain a mystery for now) and your interaction with the liberated woman, some measure of doubt remained, and unanswered questions that would have to remain such for a while longer.At very least, until you ate something.Your physical exertions of late may not have been too strenuous, but you still could feel both some fatigue and your sizeable body's requests for nutrition.And so, as you close your story..."Alright, before we return to our mission, I believe we've earned ourselves some chow." You conclude.There's a bit of a stunned silence, but you really don't want to move onto a Q&A session while you have nothing but speculations to offer."Oh yeah!" Phineous is the first to recover, of one voice with Sparky, while Smutkin turns from wide eyed surprise that you don't see too often on him back to a more stoic expression with a soft smirk. Chloe simply rolls her eyes. Golems remain stone-faced. The twin scouts seem to still digest what you said earlier and Elle blinks a few times before actually taking vote:"Sir, wait. I know, I have an idea, in fact this is perfect."You look at her with raised eyebrows."Sir, my friend you rescued-""We rescued." you interject"Um, er, of course, well, point being, he was insistent that I tell you he would repay you.""That's-" You're unsure where this is going, but Elle is adamant."No, let me finish! You see, he mentioned specifically food, as in feast or a party, he seemed to kind of leap to conclusion seeing as you're an ogre.""Well-""But this is a perfect chance. Sir, please, trust me on this. It would mean a lot to him, and I know he knows how to pick his eateries. Sir? Please?" Elle looked at you pleadingly.
Some time later, you find yourself in the corner of a square. It's early afternoon and people are walking around, and despite your endeavour to remain mostly innocuous, it's frankly impossible for you to not stand out. Luckily, the attention is no longer as annoying as it might have been before."What is that freak show? Some circus troupe?" Said one older man."What? Shut your trap, you fool, have you been living under a rock? This is the noble ogre our lady had redeemed and elevated to the post of her champion." A younger one chided."I heard he already saved her life during the grand sermon..." Third person chipped in."The world's going crazy, I'm telling you..." The first one shook his head."Are you certain this is the place?" You ask the scouts."Positively, sir." Janet says. "Lady Elle's instructions were unambiguous. I'm certain she'll be arriving presently."Sure enough, it did not take more than a few minutes for the courier to emerge from one of the adjoining streets, accompanied by a young man. If you hadn't known he'd be coming, you would probably have trouble recognizing him - he was in a considerably better shape, cleaned up, in fresh clothing - apparently male courier uniform was marginally less revealing than the female model - and with bruises and scars gone, most likely as an effect of Celestine's healing. Even so, as the pair came closer you could make out more details that showed his imprisonment did leave an impression on him, his movements were a touch stiffer and his gaze a bit shakier than a relaxed person's ought to be. However, at least the smile he showed when he spotted you and your company, seemed genuine enough."Sir Mouse!" The young man addressed you as the two couriers approached. "I can't even begin to express my gratitude for your help, and that of your friends. I'm truly happy that you agreed to accept the invitation I passed through Elle...""Don't mention it. It needed to be done." You shrug."Even so. Please, follow me. I understand you're all hungry and I know exactly the right place that offers suitable quantity without compromising quality..."With that the man looked around as if to reorient himself, then set out towards one of the roads out of the square. "This way!"
After briefly navigating streets of the city where a residential distrikt met with the commercial you make it in front of a relatively unassuming establishment that was nevertheless visibly alive with a number of dining clients, a testament to its popularity and possibly also quality of the service."Here we are. Please, give me a moment. It's usually full at this time, but the owner has a room reserved for well paying groups." The courier said and disappeared inside the building. You gave Elle a look that she returned with a smile and a shrug.You took your group to the side to not inhibit traffic, which happened anyway when occasional gawkers stopped by to take a look, some of them even correctly identifying you as the ogre that has been seen in company of lady Celestine or the princesses recently. Even the more curious ones don't opt to approach, which is probably for the best and eventually Elle's friend reemerges and waves you in.It takes some careful treading but you manage to navigate the inside of the lively restaurant without disturbing the furniture, although much of the eating momentarily stops as the patrons gawk at the exotic guests. All that is left behind when you reach a small hall, large enough to host perhaps twenty or thirty people. It's there that you are met with the proprietor."Welcome, welcome!" A short, rotund man of hastily receding hairline and mirthful smile addresses you. "Our lady's heroes are of course welcome in my humble establishment. Please, be seated and peruse. Don't trouble yourself, everything is settled, everything is arranged."You raise your eyebrow. "Such warm welcome is appreciated, but is it not customary in human eateries to pay for one's orders?""Of course, of course, under normal circumstances. But what kind of person would I be had I chosen to charge Lady's own champion?" The man then winks at you. "Worry not, my good person, word of your presence alone will ensure my business will not be a loss no matter how much you would eat."Oh, so that was his reasoning. Well, you kind of hope his estimates are solid. You are, after all, rather hungry.Well, you came here for a reason. You acknowledge the man's offer and gesture for your party to take up seats. You place yourself on the floor, unwilling to risk the furniture, and as the waiting staff begins to carry deliciously fragrant plates and bowls of house specialties, you consider how to best use this rare moment of downtime...>Just focus on eating, there's no need to spend too much time on this, you might be able to go to the council early and maybe talk with some of your friends before it begins in earnest.>This was Elle and her friend's idea so you might as well spend some time talking to them over meals.>Take it easy and look across your team, make sure everyone benefits at least as much as you do.>Focus on someone specific (choose)>other idea
>>5762040>>This was Elle and her friend's idea so you might as well spend some time talking to them over meals.now's the chance for the dark horse Elle route to shine
>>5762040>This was Elle and her friend's idea so you might as well spend some time talking to them over meals.
>>5762040>This was Elle and her friend's idea so you might as well spend some time talking to them over meals.The meal are the couriers' idea so it feels bad not talking to them - plus, our current sources of information on anything happening outside the city are pretty much limited to "high-ranking nobles around Celestia" and "facetime with Olga", so gossips from the couriers might give us some invaluable insight on more recent news involving the ongoing three-way war, current geopolitical situation, the sentiments of the general population (and/or the lower nobles), or even simpler thing like the shortest routes to Atlassia and what dangers we may encounter along the way (besides the obvious answer of "Wolf cultists"). Seriously, the courier's oath is literally "My eyes are your sight, my feet are your reach, my blade is your arm", so baseline info-gathering should be well within their capabilities - and even if Elle and her pal haven't been outside the city that much these days, their colleagues surely did so we will still get second- and third-hand info in the worst case scenario - and given our mission at hand, we need all reliable sources of information we can get.That said, just because we might talk with Elle and her pal a lil' bit more doesn't mean we should be neglecting other members of our team. Like, when's the last time we chatted with the twin scouts? Or even Tithe, for that matter.CAPTCHA: GR8A24I don't know what A24 is but if Captcha said it's great then it must be.