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File 153032571705.png - (287.52KB , 600x600 , Cover2.png )
890533 No. 890533 ID: bd5c42

Sentinel Key is a magical girl action/slice of life quest. It may contain blood, gore, body horror, and mild sexual content. Catch up on the ill-fated beginning here: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/graveyard/res/851282.html
129 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
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No. 902436 ID: 270774

i’m assuming she saw something Substantial, so if it doesn’t seem like you know what she’s talking about she’ll probably assume you didn’t see anything at all and she’ll just clam up immediately because she doesn’t want to sound ridiculous. for the sake of information on what’s been seen, allow yourself to look as uneasy as you probably actually feel when you say “weird like what?”
worst case scenario, we can brush it off with “well, it was all weird” and something about hallucinating because of the..... gas
>>
No. 902485 ID: 977456

"I saw lots of weird stuff, but it sounds like you had something specific in mind? I didn't notice any looters or whatever taking advantage..."
>>
No. 902509 ID: c557a9

"yeah, i did. it was...pretty fucked up. what'd you see?"
>>
No. 903477 ID: ce950c
File 153801638021.png - (218.12KB , 600x600 , 57.png )
903477

I frown. It could be that Roni saw something significant, or it could just be a dream or something. Only...there wasn't actually a gas leak. Nobody should have been hallucinating.

>Important question: what happens to muggles if they becomes aware of what's really going on? Does knowing about demons make you more vulnerable?

Uh. I really don't know. As far as I know, it's never happened. Humans can't see demons, so usually they wouldn't believe anything we told them about the truth. But knowing about this shit has never done anything good for MY life, and if Roni is nosy, it could be dangerous for her to know.

Trouble is, I really don't know her that well.

"I dunno, maybe," I say finally. It's not hard to act perturbed, like I maybe saw something. "Weird like how?"

Roni sighs.

"This is going to sound completely absurd," she admits. "And I don't know. Maybe it was just a gas leak hallucination, but it was really...REALLY vivid. Concrete, I guess."

"I won't judge," I promise. Frankly, her saying this has me more convinced she saw what really happened.

"Haha, okay. Well...I didn't get a good look because I had the mother of all migraines, but I remember, uh. Okay, so like. What if human flesh was like, taffy? And you had like, a big fuckin...tree? Made out of flesh taffy, with big heads and arms and shit. And the heads were like, leaking brain matter? And I remember being really high up?"

Well. She definitely saw the demon.

"Well-" I start.
>>
No. 903478 ID: ce950c
File 153801641193.png - (155.71KB , 600x600 , 58.png )
903478

"Wait," she interrupts me. "So there was that, which I could take or leave, but what I definitely remember is that there was this girl, who grabbed me and dragged me out of the building. And apparently the EMTs found me outside the building, where I definitely didn't walk because they found my cane inside and I wouldn't have just left it. I don't remember her face very well, but she had this like...bright pink hair. And she was, you know, the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, no biggie. She probably saved my life, so."

Hm, well, shit.
>>
No. 903479 ID: 70df1e

Her heart is fond of you, good sentinel magenta! You should tell her of your great deeds and of her magnificent beauty, and be merrily wed at once!
>>
No. 903481 ID: c1eaac

>>903478

let's not blow our cover, here. tell her that maybe a student with pink hair got her out, and the hallucinations from the gas leak embellished the rest. sounds wild though. and that pink-haired student sounds pretty cool.
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No. 903516 ID: dbf422

Think very deeply about the concept of gratitude and how she clearly doesn't recognize you. Then think about how that's a lot less important than the fact that she's apparently innately magical.

Since you don't have a precedent, it's up to you to decide if you tell her. I would, I take pride in open honesty, and if she can see demons she should know what she's dealing with. Though, given your response regarding telling your aunt, I imagine you might not agree. Or is Roni's sight enough to change your mind?
>>
No. 904827 ID: afdebc

>And she was, you know, the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, no biggie
Gosh dang don't you wish you could take credit for that now.

I'm tempted to say screw maintaining the masquerade for the masquerade's sake. But of course if you flip to telling the truth you have to come clean about the lies you already told. And there's the whole enemy you apparently just inherited mess (who she apparently knows).

I guess it comes down to- do you want to take a risk on someone who thinks your beautiful?
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No. 907114 ID: ce950c
File 153966751433.png - (330.67KB , 600x600 , 59.png )
907114

>Think very deeply about the concept of gratitude and how she clearly doesn't recognize you. Then think about how that's a lot less important than the fact that she's apparently innately magical.

>Though, given your response regarding telling your aunt, I imagine you might not agree. Or is Roni's sight enough to change your mind?

>I guess it comes down to- do you want to take a risk on someone who thinks your beautiful?

Oh great, I love it when a problem has nuance.

I just...I dunno. I don't think it would be fair or right to put Roni in what could be real danger just because she thinks I'm pretty. Just. That would be pretty vapid of me, wouldn't it? I think that...for now, I can't be sure telling Roni is a good idea until I get a better idea of what's going on, and who she IS.

> And there's the whole enemy you apparently just inherited mess (who she apparently knows).

And then there's this. I know it probably sounds paranoid but...if I start telling Roni things, I can't be sure that information won't make it to Kimiko. I mean, Kimiko knows who I am already, but I don't want to give her an in with the Sentinels, even by proxy.

"Uh, Petra?" Roni asks, shifting nervously in her chair. I snap back to reality.

"Yeah," I say, blinking furiously. Man, I gotta stop zoning out listening to you guys in the middle of a conversation. "Yeah, sorry. I was just...hoping to hear something else, I guess. We all saw some pretty crazy things in there."

Roni looks...disappointed. I almost feel bad.

"But, uh, maybe a pink-haired girl really did pull you out of the library," I say quickly. "I mean, it seems like SOMEONE did, and there are a lot of people with weird hair in the art majors?"

"Yeah, maybe," Roni says, frowning.

I can't tell if she's just disappointed, or if she doesn't believe me. I'm going to have to keep an eye on her for a while, I think. Make sure she doesn't stumble into anything she shouldn't.

Just then, a loud BEEP startles me from behind as a blue minivan pulls up to the curb next to us.
>>
No. 907115 ID: ce950c
File 153966754497.png - (370.43KB , 600x600 , 60.png )
907115

"Get in, Petra" says Imani, leaning out the driver's side window. "We're going shopping."
"Shopping?" I ask.

Imani glances over and makes brief eye contact with Roni. She clears her throat.

"I'll explain on the ride there. C'mon."

"Sorry, Roni," I say, already circling around to the passenger seat. "We'll pick this up later, alright?"

"Alright," she says.
>>
No. 907116 ID: ce950c
File 153966758231.png - (439.69KB , 600x600 , 61.png )
907116

[IMG]
The car door closes behind me and Imani starts driving away. I sigh and recline my seat a few clicks.

"Okay, what's the deal?" I ask.

"Janus got back in contact," Imani replies. I groan. "It says there's going to be a demon attack this weekend at the Rices' charity gala."

Elizabeth and Karolis Rice. Wealthy old money folks. Their lumber business has been running in New England since the 1800s. They've been planning this gala for nearly a year, and only the fanciest, upper-crustiest jerks in the Northeast are invited.

"How the hell are we going to get into the Rice's charity gala?" I ask.

"We're going to have invitations," Imani replies. "Janus can forge like nobody's business."

"So we're out here shopping for gala gowns?" I continue, frowning. "God, I feel like I passed out in the hospital and woke up in Ocean's Eight."

Imani chuckles.

"Yeah," she says. "So. Anyway, I was just wondering if I could talk to you a bit. You know, while we're driving."

I frown.

"That question never starts a good conversation," I point out. "But yeah. Hit me."
>>
No. 907117 ID: ce950c
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907117

"It's about Janus, actually. I know it's...kinda chronically untrustworthy. And it creeps me out too, I understand. I just...I think you might be jumping the gun a little on its advice. And I don't think we can commit 100% to not killing Kimiko Koizumi, at least- I mean, if she presents a clear threat to your safety, I-"

"We are not killing Koizumi," I interrupt firmly. "God, Imani. We're Sentinels. We exist to protect people, not extrajudicially execute them."

"We exist to protect humans," Imani corrects me. "And as you keep reminding us, we're not human. And neither is Kimiko Koizumi. I'm not saying we should leap before looking, or kill her on the spot before we have all the facts, but I just. I want you to promise me that when we do know the whole truth, you'll consider EVERY option available to you. Not just the ones you find...palatable."
>>
No. 907123 ID: 977456

You might want to rethink that. Judicial is not an option for you. If she is flinging around lethal attacks, then refusing to reciprocate is a huge risk. What if you believe that she is about to kill someone? Killing her is a bad outcome. Disabling would be preferable. Redemption is the goal. Sometimes the best result isn't possible. Don't aim to kill her, but consider that holding back could be worse than the alternative, and if something tragic happens, try not to be too hard on the responsible parties.
>>
No. 907142 ID: 1872dc

It'll be important to keep in touch with Roni. It wouldn't be right to both keep the truth away and also ignore her. It would be very easy for someone in that situation to feel isolated and scared.

Strange that Janus would suddenly appear and direct your actions. Stranger that it's for such a notable family. Could certainly be coincidence, but Imani has a point about trustworthiness.

We've discussed killing already, and I will not badger you about it. But I will remind you that it's more than just you at stake. If Kimiko had hurt you worse, a lot of humans could have died. What if that becomes a pattern? I will leave the method to you, but she must be stopped permanently somehow.
But we don't know her intentions yet. She may not even actually be trying to kill you. Maybe she wanted a captive audience. Or to torment you.

Be careful, Petra.
>>
No. 907154 ID: 5f3f48

>>907114
>Just. That would be pretty vapid of me, wouldn't it?
Would depends on your motive, really. It's hard to justify putting people at risk for petty or temporary acknowledgement, but real human connections and relationships? That can be worth taking risks, sometimes.

>I want you to promise me that when we do know the whole truth, you'll consider EVERY option available to you. Not just the ones you find...palatable.
That's fair. You have every reason to not trust Janus and be afraid it's offering you a quick or easy solution, or one that serves its interests. But you can promise yourself to think things over again when you have all the facts.

In the worst case, someone with sentinel powers, seriously killing or hurting innocent people, and there's no way to contain her or deny her access to those powers? Death might be the only solution. (Not that I'm advocating killing her, just acknowledging the scenario is conceivable. But coming to terms with her, or perhaps cornering her and pressuring her to surrender her powers are possible. Maybe other things too).
>>
No. 907185 ID: 1872dc

>>907142
oh yeah, I had a different id for that. suffice it to say I was all "killing a killer ain't bad, and probably smart, but I get that Petra isn't necessarily down for that"
>>
No. 907200 ID: 70df1e

As much as it pains me to endorse the death of a fellow Sentinel, your Imani is right. If Sentinel Key is fighting to kill, you must be prepared to respond in kind. It is always better when such measures are not necessary, but it is not always a luxury we sentinels can afford.

Our duty comes first. It must always come first.
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No. 909252 ID: 986b2d
File 154117697842.png - (199.51KB , 600x600 , 63.png )
909252

"Sounds like the spirits agree with you," I mutter.

"Of course they do," Imani jokes, although you'd never know it from her face. "I'm always right."

"Fine," I say. "If it's in the heat of battle, and she's shooting to kill, I'm not gonna hold back. But NONE of us are going to be executing someone in cold blood. Pretty sure that would be a hard sell to my rabbi."

Rabbi Jacobson doesn't know about the Sentinels, obviously, but I have the feeling that if she did, she'd have some STRONG feelings about putting a girl who isn't even any older than I am in front of a firing squad.

"Mmm," Imani hums, eyes firmly on the road. "Yeah. That's a very 'you' answer."

I open my mouth to respond.

"Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing," she says before I can say anything. "I get it. You're the kind of person who believes that because you're given power, you have a moral obligation to use it to do the most good possible, right? That's what you believe in. Obligation and rules."

"And you don't?" I reply.

"I believe in consequences," she says. "Cause and effect. It's simple stuff, really. Sometimes to do the most good in the world, you have to make certain choices. And a lot of the time, that lines up with your rules. But sometimes you make the calculation and the thing you have to do is the ugly thing, the 'wrong' thing, you know? And I know you're not that person, who needs to make the calculation and do what's necessary at all costs, you don't have to be. You're not a sword, you're a shield."

"Uh huh," I murmur. "Righhht. And what does that make you?"

Imani is quiet for a moment. She takes a right turn off of the main road. There's a shop here, with a small parking lot.
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No. 909253 ID: 986b2d
File 154117704447.png - (131.03KB , 600x600 , 64.png )
909253

"A scalpel," she says firmly.

The car pulls into a spot and Imani puts on the parking break. I grab her gently by the shoulder.

"Imani," I say quietly. "Promise me. Nobody dies. Not if we can help it."

The wind escapes her lungs in a short gust, whistling through gritted teeth. She doesn't look happy, but she doesn't have a "plotting mutiny" face either.

"You're the leader," she says, and opens the car door.
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No. 909254 ID: 986b2d
File 154117708281.png - (149.30KB , 600x600 , 65.png )
909254

Now that we're out of the car, I can read the sign above the shop. It says just: Dianne's. I recognize this place, but I've never actually....been.

Standing just outside the door is Brigid. She's hard to miss, waving this wildly. We make our way over to her.

"Hey," I say. "Does someone want to explain to me why we're at the fancy costume shop and not, say, Macy's?"

"Oh, did Imani not tell you?" Brigid asks. "The gala's themed. We're meant to be going as the characters of Shakespeare."

"We'll be masked, obviously," says Imani, "but it might be a good idea to be transformed while we're there, anyway? In the interests of not being caught crashing a high society party with our civilian faces."

Brigid pushes the door open, ringing a little bell as we make our way into the store. The woman at the register is engrossed in a phone call, and gives us little more than a passing glance as we file in.

"Okay!" Brigid says, clapping her hands together. "Petra, you first! Pop on into the dressing room and we'll bring you whatever you want. They have, like, eeeeverything here!"
>>
No. 909255 ID: 986b2d
File 154117720220.png - (137.11KB , 600x600 , 66.png )
909255

(Content warning: Not NSFW strictly speaking, but Petra IS in her underwear)

I do as I'm told.

Shakespere, huh? This is gonna be one hell of a party.

This is a dress-up update! I'll keep this post open for a good couple days at least. Feel free to suggest by drawing over the paper doll, using a dress up doll game online, or describing the kind of outfit you want to suggest! Have fun!
>>
No. 909264 ID: 1872dc

The problem with Imani's line of thinking is that it leads one to believe that they always know what the correct solution is. That there always is a correct solution. I know exactly how badly that can go.

Go as Hamlet with a more subtle tragic mask. Or a skull mask if you're feeling spooky.
>>
No. 909267 ID: 05ebc7

She's not entirely WRONG, but she's not entirely RIGHT, either. Similar to how >>909264 said, that line of thinking tends to make people think in absolutes- or worse, that there ALWAYS needs to be a sacrifice. That there ALWAYS needs to be some exchange. Even if she said 'most of the time', that's usually less sincere from my experience- a smokescreen to make themselves comfortable with the atrocities they commit, convinced that 'if no one else, then it falls to me'- because their life has been pain enough for them to accept that they'll always hurt. Problem is, that's a fallacy. There's nothing more that I hate than a senseless sacrifice because someone wasn't aware of all the possibilities available to them.

...In fairness, however, I DID say she's not entirely WRONG either. Sometimes it really is for the best that the hard choices need be made. There may be a day when you have to pick between a 'bad' result and a 'worse' result. Should that day ever come- and I hope it never does- I'd hope you'd be able to make that decision and understand that it was the best you could do with what you had. That some rare days, the good of the many really DOES outweigh the good of a few.

But it doesn't mean it's a choice to be taken lightly, OR regularly with so-called grit teeth and squared back. Eventually, that weight DOES get to be too much. Beware staring too long into the abyss, and all that.

Oh, and go with a Titania theme from A Midsummer Night's Dream. That'll be funny to me.
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No. 909842 ID: c1eaac
File 154154687402.png - (127.96KB , 600x600 , dressup.png )
909842

if we're going to be transformed, might as well be fairies, and wear something easy to fight in. let's go as puck.
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No. 909846 ID: 9125e0
File 154154893364.png - (151.24KB , 600x600 , Sorry had to do it.png )
909846

Hey you forgot something
>>
No. 910365 ID: 70df1e

>>909842
OOHH IM DIGGING THIS
>>
No. 912926 ID: 986b2d
File 154388741408.png - (482.42KB , 600x600 , 67.png )
912926

I go through a few outfits. There are a lot of things to think about. I DO want something I can fight in, for sure, but I also have to be fancy enough to fit in.

Ultimately, I end up following the Hamlet concept. It's not my usual style, but...I have to admit that it flatters me.

Brigid wolf whistles when I come out the door. I take a deep bow.

It seems like in the time I took to decide on my outfit, Imani and Brigid have already pulled theirs together. They seem to have gone the matching route: Imani in a dress with a high-low train and an exposed midriff and Brigid in a very fancy suit. Both have flowers in their hair.

"And what are you two supposed to be?" I ask.

"Oberon and Titania, obviously," says Brigid, grinning.

I glance between the two of them, eyebrows raised, but say nothing.

"How are we even paying for this, anyway?" I ask, changing the subject. "This place is kinda....a lot."

"Don't worry about that," Imani replies, already pulling out a credit card. "My dad's treating us."

"Would, uh. Would he even be okay with that?" asks Brigid.

"He will be," Imani grumbles. "It's the least he can do."

That seems like a topic I...also should not probe, but I do offer Imani a brief pat on the back.

"Anyway," Imani says. "We should probably just focus on being ready for the gala."
>>
No. 912927 ID: 986b2d
File 154388747061.png - (467.59KB , 600x600 , 68.png )
912927

God, it's freezing.

Most of the gala guests show up in stretch limos or luxury cars. Imani, Brigid and I take the train (and get some WEIRD looks). My coat isn't as nice as I'd like it to be, but the moment I get inside, it's immediately whisked away from me and stored in some coat room, so I guess it doesn't really matter.

"Now, you'll be aware that the party has a dress code," says the doorman as he takes my invitation. "Mr. and Mrs. Rice have requested that everyone remain anonymous, and refer to one another by their character names. Enjoy the party."

The ballroom is...enormous. I'm serious, I've never seen a room this big, or this dripping in gold. The ostentatiousness of it is actually starting to give me a migraine. And it's absolutely packed with rich people, all masked and dressed to the nines.

"So," I mumble. "What are we looking at, here?"

Imani closes her eyes.

"There's definitely a demon here," she murmurs. "The energy is....powerful. Even a human should be able to see something this strong, but I don't....see anything."

"Class D," Brigid says, gritting her teeth. "Visible to the human eye. The demon is disguised as one of the guests."

Fuck. My life is never allowed to be easy, is it?

"I can't sense which one is the demon," Imani says, rubbing her temple. "There's too much ambient energy in here. We're going to have to investigate in person."

"Excuse me," says a soft voice from behind me.
>>
No. 912928 ID: 986b2d
File 154388751121.png - (334.06KB , 600x600 , 69.png )
912928

I turn. The speaker is not, as I'd feared, the doorman here to kick me out of the party, but a stranger. It's hard to tell what they're supposed to be dressed as, but their costume is heavy on the rose motifs, complete with an ornate silver domino mask. Their hair is long and silver, but it's clear that they're not nearly old enough for it to be natural. By their side is a silver and red cane.

"Pardon me," they say, offering a short bow. "I didn't mean to interrupt. I just saw you from across the room and was wondering if you would do me the honor of this dance."
>>
No. 912935 ID: e0ca8d

>>912928
Well it would get you onto the dance floor for some investigating. It's also really strange and suspicious. Considering you have someone actually after you, this could be dangerous.

You're supposed to be more careful, but for now, I don't actually think this is going to be anything more than a little uncomfortable.
>>
No. 912952 ID: e0ca8d

>>912935
Ugh I wish my IP address was fixed so my ID would stop changing. Especially for a quest where I've got an oc. Sorry if that ever causes problems.
>>
No. 912975 ID: 986b2d

>>912952
Don't worry about it too much! It might help a bit if you chose a name to post under when you suggest, but I'm not gonna be accusing you of identity theft, lol.
>>
No. 913062 ID: afdebc

>>912928
Might as well, you have to blend to look around the party and try to find the demon.

Be careful, since they could be the demon, of course.

Introduce yourself (in character) and find out who their costume is supposed to be.
>>
No. 913079 ID: e0ca8d

>>912975
Alright, I'll give that a go. Starting now, because I have to see if I can do it right.
>>
No. 917963 ID: 986b2d
File 154766530016.png - (192.59KB , 600x600 , 70.png )
917963

>Well it would get you onto the dance floor for some investigating.
>Might as well, you have to blend to look around the party and try to find the demon.

"My pleasure," I reply, a little mystified, but offer them a hand. They take it, gently, and hold their cane out to the side, pressing it into Brigid's bemused hands.

"Would you mind holding this for just a moment?" they ask. "It's not so easy to dance with it in the way."

Before she can respond, the stranger has already swept me out onto the dance floor.
>>
No. 917964 ID: 986b2d
File 154766532926.png - (208.07KB , 600x600 , 71.png )
917964

The music is a brisk waltz. I lead. They're a good dancer, I can tell, although I can feel them putting some of their weight on me as we dance.

>This is suspicious.

Yeah. I don't disagree.

>Introduce yourself in character.

I clear my throat after a few steps of silent dancing.

"I'm....Hamlet, I guess. Prince Hamlet, of Denmark. Can I ask who I have the pleasure of dancing with?"

God, this sounds so stupid.

"Prince Vermillion," replies the stranger smoothly. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Royal aspirations, I see?"

"Kind of just a theater nerd," I mutter. "Prince Vermillion. That's not a Shakespeare character."

"Am I not?" Vermillion replies, shooting me a coy smile. "Oh well. I suppose I've never had much of a penchant for rich people's vain pretend games."

I frown. This is....REALLY weird. But I can't see any particular danger here. If Vermillion is the demon, they wouldn't kill me in front of this entire crowd of people, right?

Probably.

"If you're not here to dress up, why are you here?" I reply. "And, you know, why ask a stranger to dance? What's really going on here?"

"Can I not ask a beautiful stranger to the dance floor?" Vermillion asks. The tempo of the song brings us a step or two closer together. "It is a party, after all."

"You don't know I'm beautiful," I counter. "I'm wearing a mask. I could be anyone under here."

I raise one arm. Prince Vermillion spins, then finds my shoulder again. The dance resumes.

"And you didn't answer my question," I continue.

"I imagine I'm here for much the same reason you are," they reply. "The word is that something wicked this way comes."

I furrow my brow. If Vermillion isn't the demon, they know about it. The real question is: whose goddamn side are they on? I could get more out of them if we keep dancing, but I don't know. Maybe it's not safe. And I'm not sure what to even ask.
>>
No. 917995 ID: 70df1e

If they KNOW the demon is amok and they aren't it... Then they must be a comrade! Welcome this Prince Vermillion as a friend! Work together to find and vanquish the foul beast that haunts this place.
>>
No. 918009 ID: 158da5

>>917964
If they know about the demon, why are they wasting their time occupying yours? They clearly know that you're here because of it, so why the mystery? Dramatic personality, a distraction, a test? Maybe you could get more from them by staying but I'm worried every bit of information is going to be behind a couple "Can I not ask a beautiful stranger to the dance floor?"s or other similar lines.

Maybe you could bluff at leaving to see their reaction?
>>
No. 918671 ID: 986b2d

THIS STRANGER IS NOT TRUSTWORTHY. BUT BETTER THE ENEMY YOU KNOW.

ASK IF THEY ARE A SENTINEL AND IF NOT, HOW THEY FOUND THIS PLACE.
>>
No. 927523 ID: 986b2d
File 155370085718.png - (233.05KB , 600x600 , 72.png )
927523

>Maybe you could bluff at leaving to see their reaction?

I narrow my eyes.

"Why are you wasting my time?" I ask, barely making an effort to disguise my impatience. "If you aren't 'something wicked,' then I really have bigger fish to fry, so if you'll excuse me-"

I move to leave, and they grip my hand just a bit tighter. For a moment, I think I sense a glimpse of panic cross their face, before they quickly regain their composure.

"If you'll allow me a moment longer," they say carefully. "It's awfully rude to leave before a dance is finished. And besides, maybe I know something you do not."

I frown.

>ASK IF THEY ARE A SENTINEL AND IF NOT, HOW THEY FOUND THIS PLACE.

Oh, good, the shouter is back.

"How did you find this place?" I ask, stepping a bit closer to Vermillion in the dance. "Are you another Sentinel I didn't know about?"

"I beg pardon?" asks Vermillion. "You will have to forgive me, I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about. As for how I found this place, I could ask you the same question."

"I got a tip," I say. It's kinda difficult not to take Vermillion's same frustrating vaguery and throw it back in their face.

"As did I," they reply. "I'm sure by now you've surmised that our uninvited guest is disguised as one of the attendees."

I nod.

"Good. I'm glad someone in the room is paying attention."

I exhale sharply, looking back up at Vermillion's face. I've had about enough of riddles and nonsense for one day.

"Prince Vermillion. Whose side are you on?" I ask.

They laugh lightly as the song begins to draw to a close. The dance has drifted us back towards Imani and Brigid.

"I think that's a question you will have to answer for youself, Prince Hamlet," they say, and drop my hand. They pluck their cane out of Imani's hands and begin to walk off back into the party.

"Wait-" I call, but they wave me off.

"What was that you said before? Bigger fish to fry?"

And they're gone.
>>
No. 927524 ID: 986b2d
File 155370090208.png - (231.93KB , 600x600 , 73.png )
927524

"That was weird as fuck," Brigid says bluntly.

"No kidding," I say. "And I learned approximately fuck all. They call themself Prince Vermillion, and I THINK they're on our side, but I really have no idea. They talk in riddles and weirdness. They didn't seem to know what a Sentinel was, but they know there's a demon here."

"Whatever they are," says Imani, "they're powerful. I was sensing some serious magical energy coming off their cane, and that's just something they TOUCHED."

I sigh and shake my head. This is a puzzle, but we have a more important puzzle facing us now.

"Did you manage to narrow down who the demon might be?" I ask.

"I'm glad you asked," Imani replies, looking just as relieved as I am to be talking about something other than Prince Vermillion. "I did a bit of a scan of the room. There's a lot of energy in here, so I couldn't narrow it down to one figure, but there are a few people in the room it seems to be clustered around. One of them was your new friend, but there were a few others as well."

She gestures to four people in the room. I make a note of each one.

The first is, of course, Prince Vermillion, who seems to be doing a rounds of the room. They keep glancing at the other guests through a lens of some kind.

The second is a woman with long, blonde hair, worn loose. Her mask is a scarf tied across the lower half of her face, and her dress is covered in loose flowers. Notably, she is NOT wearing any shoes.

The third is a woman about my age. She looks a bit out of place at the party, with a carefully matched white and gold lolita coordinate, bright white hair, and a gold circlet with matching wings attached to the back. She's having a polite conversation with a wealthy-looking man in a blue silk suit.

And the last is a man, also probably about my age, leaning on the wall away from the party. His suit is nondescript, and he seems not to have put much effort into the theming of his outfit. Notably, though, he is fiddling with a sword, a very fancy silver rapier.

"You can make the call on who you want to talk to first," says Imani.
>>
No. 927540 ID: c1eaac

vermillion will probably blow us off again, so let's talk to ophelia? you have an in, since you're dressed as hamlet.
>>
No. 927543 ID: c8452a

So they didn't know more than you. They needed your attention and seemingly nothing else. And the riddles. As demons are real, this one feels awfully like a fae.

Apologies, I didn't advise a way that actually assisted you. Though at least it gave your companion time to look around properly.

I would say Juliet, as the wings make for a good bit of irony, but that feels a little foolish. I don't remember demons being that sociable in disguise, either, though if you've experienced differently go for her.
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No. 928616 ID: 986b2d
File 155434831362.png - (192.45KB , 600x600 , 74.png )
928616

Content warnings for this update include misgendering and general horror.

>vermillion will probably blow us off again, so let's talk to ophelia?

>I would say Juliet, as the wings make for a good bit of irony, but that feels a little foolish. I don't remember demons being that sociable in disguise, either, though if you've experienced differently go for her.

Honestly, there's just not that much precedent for this sort of thing, so I have no idea what a demon could be capable of. They're usually not sentient in that way, but... they also usually don't look like people. And things have already been real weird lately, so I'm a little reticent to cross anyone off the list yet.

"I'm going to talk to the girl with the angel wings," I say. Imani nods.

"I'll talk to the man with the sword. Do you think your....friend is alright without supervision?"

I frown.

"Yeah. I guess."

"Then I'll take the girl with the flowers," says Brigid. "We can...bond or some shit."

I nod, and we part ways.
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No. 928617 ID: 986b2d
File 155434835447.png - (173.86KB , 600x600 , 75.png )
928617

I approach the woman dressed as an angel. Up close, I can tell the man she's talking to seems oddly familiar, but I can't quite place it. At least, not until I draw close enough to overhear their conversation.

"You seem like a very nice young woman," says the man. "You know, my son is around your age, and I imagine you'd really get along. Where did you say you go to school?"

"Greendale State," says the woman.

"Oh, that's where he goes," the man says. "You might know him. Don't deadname people, folks Ellison?"

Imani's dad. Of COURSE he's here.

The woman reaches up and touches his cheek, and he stiffens.

"No, sir," she says quietly. "I don't know anyone named Deadname. And neither do you. Isn't that right?"

He nods mutely.

Haha. Hahaha what the fuck.

"You don't have any children, right? And you're gonna promise me that you're gonna ignore any evidence that you do, okay?"

"I promise," he says softly.

I exhale maybe a little too loudly. The woman's head whips around and she makes eye contact. Shit. SHIT.
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No. 928618 ID: 986b2d
File 155434839136.png - (295.76KB , 600x600 , 76.png )
928618

"It's rude to eavesdrop," she says seriously.

Fuck. Fuck??? FUCK? WHAT THE FUCK.
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No. 928627 ID: c1eaac

uhhhhhh. apologize, maybe.
>>
No. 928628 ID: c8452a

Oh.

Thank her? Throw her as hard as you can towards outside? I'm

having trouble, I think. This has to be demonic. It's at least dangerous, unless that guy is the typical kind of target.

Okay, an actual plan: we can't give up stealth until we're certain. So you need to steel yourself and convince her that she's going to talk to you now.
>>
No. 928640 ID: a789ed

"it's rude to brainwash my friend's dad into forgetting his daughter! even if he's a shithead"
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