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File 155175753610.png - (341.07KB , 700x600 , 1.png )
924496 No. 924496 ID: c1eaac

Chapter One: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/897839.html
Disthread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/124957.html
143 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 928379 ID: e8c16a

siblings so we might have allies! just to cover our bases
>>
No. 928394 ID: c8452a

>>928343
Yup.

This suggestion couldn't possibly be biased.
>>
No. 928413 ID: e21b4e

oh siblings for sure!
>>
No. 928800 ID: c1eaac
File 155452347616.png - (144.10KB , 700x600 , 33.png )
928800

You wave back at Shax, but decide to wait for Or to come back before you make your way across the room to greet your siblings. Luckily, it isn't long before they're at your side again, pressing a flute of champagne into one of your hands.

"I thought you might want to keep your wits about you, considering where we are," they say pleasantly, with a little wink.
>>
No. 928802 ID: c1eaac
File 155452348925.png - (149.72KB , 700x600 , 34.png )
928802

You look up at them, studying their face for a long moment. "How much do you know about -"

"I know enough," they assure you. "I can't say I blame you for what you did, but I can't imagine Jasper is pleased about it, either. I was surprised you trusted me as your companion for the evening. Jasper and I have known each other since we were children, you know."

Huh. You didn't know that, actually.

"Are you suggesting I shouldn't trust you, Duchess?" you ask, politely enough.

"Oh, no, dear. Not at all." They stifle a laugh behind their hand. "Betraying a prince would be ill-befitting of my station. And besides, Camio likes you."

That isn't quite the answer you're expecting, but you'll take it.
>>
No. 928803 ID: c1eaac
File 155452352365.png - (197.87KB , 700x600 , 35.png )
928803

"We should go say hi to my siblings," you say, nodding towards Shax and Xezbeth. You're not exactly good friends with them, but it's only polite, and you want to be sure to cover your bases as far as allies are concerned.

"Oh, of course!" Or says, sounding delighted at the prospect of socializing. They take your hand in theirs again and practically drag you over to where Shax and Xezbeth are standing, taking long-legged strides that you struggle to keep up with.

"Hello, Shax, darling," they say, while you catch your breath behind them. "You're looking well."

"That's not a compliment I hear often! You're too sweet, Ornias." Shax laughs, the mouth over where his eye should be chittering and grinding its teeth. He has a plate of what looks like little teacakes in one hand, and is eating them with the other, slurping them up into a mouth he's manifested on his palm. It's kind of gross. He leans slightly to one side and looks around Or at you, all smiles. "Hello Glasya-Labolas! I didn't know if you remembered me."

"Of course I remember you," you say politely. Shax is only a few centuries younger than you, and Marax's twin brother. He's a marquis, not a prince, but he gets around the social circuit enough that you hear many, many things about him. Including the fact that he briefly dated Murmur, after Marax left for earth, and then dumped Murmur for Murmur's servant Andras. You think Shax and Andras are still dating, but it's hard to say.
>>
No. 928804 ID: c1eaac
File 155452354391.png - (131.74KB , 700x600 , 36.png )
928804

"You have a hard face to forget, Shax," Xezbeth says, wryly. She scans your face for a moment before offering you a small smile that somehow still manages to look unimpressed. "Hello, Prince."

"You can call me Glas. We're siblings," you tell her. You don't know much about Xezbeth, only that she's older than you, and she shares her estate with Shax. She - like your mother - seems to prefer keeping a low profile when it comes to court and other societal events.

"Glas, then," she says, sounding agreeable enough. "I must say, I didn't expect to see you at one of Jasper Abbadon's parties. What's the occasion?"
>>
No. 928806 ID: 70df1e

tell your siblings about the whole seeing jasper get eaten by an angel and then getting an invitation thing. chances are theyd find it funny and take your side later? also introduce or to your sister
>>
No. 928809 ID: 7011e0

well we met jasper at a party the other day and then he sent us an invitation to this one! it was super kind of him and definitely not an attempt to get us in a spot where he can take revenge
>>
No. 928811 ID: 2af340

introduce or!! and tell them we found out about japsper's secret vore kink
>>
No. 928812 ID: 270774

we don’t have to go into detail, but if we’re scoping for allies, you can admit that you’re pretty sure the reason you received an invitation tonight is because jasper is a little, uh, annoyed with you
>>
No. 928814 ID: 10c408

We should be deadpan and/or blunt here. A little honesty is gonna go a long way towards working the crowd

"To be honest, he and I don't see eye to eye on a particular matter. last week it got him into some trouble and I decided to leave him to sort it out himself.

naturally, he seems to blame me for it and I've accepted his invitation to cut any future problems he may cause off at the knees, if need be."
>>
No. 928815 ID: ffce6d

>>928812
haha yeah this. no need to go into too much detail
>>
No. 928827 ID: c8452a

>>928809
And introduce Or.
>>
No. 928830 ID: 0c162d

i think politely joking abt it / talking arnd it is def the way to go
>>
No. 929668 ID: c0641d

>>928814
Hah, nice; it's vague enough to avoid outright scandal but true enough that your siblings don't get the wrong idea. Also, don't let them make you hold up the entire conversation yourself; "Are you a frequent guest of ol' Jas's get-togethers yourself? I've heard things about the catering. What would your verdict be on that, judging by your experience?" Don't forget to arc an eyebrow with a probing look to really get across how circumspect the things you heard were.
>>
No. 930054 ID: f2320a

>>928804
We should be deadpan and/or blunt here. A little honesty is gonna go a long way towards working the crowd

"To be honest, he and I don't see eye to eye on a particular matter. last week it got him into some trouble and I decided to leave him to sort it out himself.

naturally, he seems to blame me for it and I've accepted his invitation to cut any future problems he may cause off at the knees, if need be."
>>
No. 930130 ID: c1eaac
File 155548266390.png - (156.74KB , 700x600 , 37.png )
930130

"Ahh, well," you say, and you don't have to try hard to sound a little sheepish. It's probably best not to tell Shax and Xezbeth the whole truth, if they don't already know, and hope that they'll side with you regardless. "Jasper got into some trouble at court last week, and I left him to sort it out on his own. I think he invited me here out of annoyance more than anything."

"Well, I'd be annoyed too, if you left me to be torn apart by angels," Shax says, a bit too loudly for comfort.
>>
No. 930131 ID: c1eaac
File 155548268459.png - (89.81KB , 700x600 , 38.png )
930131

"You would probably welcome being torn apart by angels, Shax. Don't tease him." Xezbeth's voice is stern, but her smile becomes a little more genuine as her gaze flicks back to you. "Don't worry, neither of us is particularly fond of Jasper, either. Shax is a gourmand, and I'm accompanying him as his plus one to ensure he stays out of trouble."

"Neither of you brought dates?" you ask. You know next to nothing about Xezbeth's romantic prospects, but surely Shax has his pick of friends and lovers to bring.

"My romantic situation is...complex," Xezbeth says, with forced diplomacy. Or makes a noise behind you, under their breath, and you resolve to ask them what she means later.

"Andras didn't feel up to running into Murmur or any of his friends," Shax chimes in.

"Smart of them," Or says, again under their breath.
>>
No. 930132 ID: c1eaac
File 155548270321.png - (213.55KB , 700x600 , 39.png )
930132

"Ah," you cut in, remembering your manners. "Xezbeth, have you met Duchess Ornias? They're my date for the evening."

"I have not," she says, offering Or her hand. "Though I know their cousin Eligos well. He speaks highly of you, Duchess."

"Does he? That's a surprise." Or laughs, and takes Xezbeth's hand, kissing it briefly before returning it to her. You're a little awed by their charm, and how easily they integrate themself into conversation with strangers, like everyone is an old friend they've known for centuries.

"Have you and the duchess been courting long?" Shax asks softly, sidling up next to you to watch them and Xezbeth chat. "I hear they're a hard one to pin down, if you're thinking of marriage. Or are you just trying to fuck them?" You look up at him sharply, and he laughs, raising his hands as though trying to pacify you. "No judgement, of course! I'm just curious."

"I'm not sure," you say, and you just barely have time to think that maybe that's something you should be considering before the angel by the front door is announcing a newcomer to the party.
>>
No. 930133 ID: c1eaac
File 155548271346.png - (103.19KB , 700x600 , 40.png )
930133

"Duke Eligos Bathinson," they say, and you and Or both snap your attention to the door. You see Eligos there, sporting a new hairstyle and much more casual clothes than he was wearing to court. He looks good. He probably doesn't see you, since you're far in the back of the room, but maybe you should talk to him?

"Did he bring a date?" Or asks, craning their neck to see.
>>
No. 930134 ID: c1eaac
File 155548273647.png - (106.43KB , 700x600 , 41.png )
930134

"And Prince Marax Hethson," the angel at the door goes on. The noise in the room falls significantly, and you get the distinct impression that all hell is about to break loose.

"What the fuck?" You hear Murmur say, from the front of the room.

"Oh, boy," Xezbeth says under her breath, behind you.
>>
No. 930138 ID: 70df1e

team huddle with or, eligos, and xezbeth. murmur is going to start shit because im like 100% thats his ex that left him at the altar that he mentioned at the last party and shax is in xezbeth jail so we should figure out how we want to proceed very fast like
>>
No. 930142 ID: 3f3f1a

YEAH MAKE A PLAN or if it seems to be a scene can u excuse urself from the ballroom temporarily and quickly,
>>
No. 930145 ID: c8452a

"What the fuck." But under your breath. Maybe it would be fun to constantly stay very far away from the splash zone of whatever drama is about to happen.
>>
No. 930149 ID: 10c408

....Okay seriously JUST exactly how many people know what happened to Jasper? It's imperatively that we determine this information.

But that's for later. Right now... Fuck's sake, Eligos.

"I do believe we should make ourselves even more scarce."

Do not get involved. Try to stay in earshot if you can but don't get involved.
>>
No. 930159 ID: 270774

yeah, let’s just make a game of it. try to stay close enough to be in earshot, but far enough away that you won’t get spotted or dragged into things. i’m sure or is going to love that plan, too
>>
No. 930747 ID: 26262d

eligos bitch
>>
No. 931560 ID: f950b0
File 155666061871.png - (122.32KB , 700x600 , 42.png )
931560

"What the fuck," you echo under your breath, watching Eligos sweep into the room with Marax on his arm. God, when was the last time you even saw Marax? Probably before you stopped going by Princess and started going by Prince, if you had to guess. Definitely long before his wedding, or lack thereof.

You need...a strategy. That's what you need. One that will keep you, Shax, and Xezbeth out of the crossfire, since someone here (you'd be surprised if it wasn't Murmur) will surely recognize the three of you as Hethsons and try to drag you into this whole mess. And also one that will let you keep an eye on things, mostly for Or's sake. They sounded earlier like they wanted to see what would happen between Eligos and Murmur.
>>
No. 931561 ID: f950b0
File 155666063262.png - (174.26KB , 700x600 , 43.png )
931561

"We should probably make ourselves more scarce," you say to the group at large, in a voice that definitely communicates how super not-panicked you are. You are't surprised to see Xezbeth and Shax looking roughly as uncomfortable as you feel. Shax dated Murmur fairly soon after Marax left him, so...that's about right. "Unless you think your cousin needs assistance, Or?"

"Oh, no. Eligos dug this grave for himself, and now he has to lie in it," Or says brightly. "We can go wherever you like, darling."

Well. That's settled, then. You'll have to grill Or more about why Eligos and Murmur are fighting later, but for now, it's time to make your escape.

"I hear Jasper's garden is lovely," Xezbeth says, with a pointed sort of look at two nearby doors with large glass panes set into them, that clearly lead out onto a patio. You - and the rest of the group - decide to take her hint, moving towards them just as you catch a glimpse of Murmur moving towards Eligos in the crowd.
>>
No. 931562 ID: f950b0
File 155666064719.png - (278.86KB , 700x600 , 44.png )
931562

You escape out onto the patio, and instantly feel like you can breathe a bit better. Very few of the party guests seem to be out here, and it really is quite nice. The grounds of Jasper's estate are spread out before you - a stone path leading through a lavish garden, and beyond that, an elaborate looking hedge maze. You're not terribly surprised. Hedge mazes have risen in popularity among noble demons in the past few centuries, and are considered a good place to conduct covert affairs.

Now that you're more or less alone, it seems like a good time to address the elephant in the room.

"So," you say carefully, leading the group onto the path. Might as well walk and talk. "How many people know what happened with...me and Jasper, at court?"

"Hard to say," Shax replies. "Xezbeth and I heard from Andras, who heard from a servant of the king's. I don't think Jasper told anyone else, if that's what you're worried about. You probably humiliated him by not helping. It's pretty funny, really."
>>
No. 931563 ID: f950b0
File 155666067744.png - (128.20KB , 700x600 , 45.png )
931563

As Shax talks, you slowly become conscious that someone is watching you from the entrance of the hedge maze. An angel. They aren't wearing a servant's uniform - in fact, they're dressed more like a party guest than anything else. Maybe they're here undercover, but if that's the case, why is their halo showing?
>>
No. 931566 ID: 7011e0

well it's good not EVERYONE knows i guess... anyway does anyone know this angel. or why they're here
>>
No. 931569 ID: 70df1e

hey we were concerned about jasper telling demons but what about jasper telling angels? i mean id assume therye cool with it on account of eae doing the attacking, here, but that angel over this is giving us a Look (tm) if i am not mistaken and i dont like that one bit
>>
No. 931582 ID: 2af340

be nice and say hello! :)
>>
No. 931583 ID: 10c408

Hoo boy. There's three possibilities and all of them are worrying.

One: That's the angel diplomat who is pulling strings to fund Jasper's "all you can eat" angel buffet.

two: He's the main course for Jasper's meal tonight.

three: He's neither of the above. Most likely, he's too important to simply disappear.

We need to find out which is true and we have to be lowkey about it.

So, with that in mind.

Clam up, immediately or change the subject back to Eligos and Marax. Take the little group a ways down the path, then suggest splitting up.
>>
No. 931602 ID: 02e2dc

ask your pals if they know that angel

also ask them if they know why eligos is trying to start shit (i assume?) by bringing marax. does he have a bug up his ass about us pulling rank on him or is he just doing it for ~THE DRAMA OF IT ALL~
>>
No. 931603 ID: 02e2dc

also ask what or thinks about ~THE DRAMA OF IT ALL~ we need that sweet demon court gossip
>>
No. 931611 ID: cb754e

>>931602 this! last thing you need is to get separated from these guys and become angel chow. point out the angel to the group!
>>
No. 931614 ID: 190147

deeeefinitely do not approach the angel on your on, ask your friends if they know them and maybe wave at them?
>>
No. 931763 ID: c0641d

"I spy with my little eye... either one soon-to-be unfortunate or one that could very well be enabling the misfortune. Frankly, this curiosity is eating me alive." wink, nudge "Should we introduce ourselves?"

If Eligos is trying to start beef with Murmur, I think he should be comfortable with explaining why himself, at a less volatile time.
>>
No. 932701 ID: f950b0

i posted this in the disthread but idk how many people really check it so! i updated the wiki page on hearts goetia with pretty much everything you guys have learned about every single character so far. i figured it would be easier to have a dedicated info hub than expect you guys to do a bunch of backreading to remember certain gossip/facts.
https://tgchan.org/wiki/Hearts_Goetia
>>
No. 932755 ID: f950b0
File 155778179961.png - (79.51KB , 700x600 , 46.png )
932755

"Not to change the subject," you say, leading the group down one of the garden pathways, "but does anyone know why Eligos brought Marax? Or, you mentioned earlier that Eligos and Murmur were fighting, but..."

"Oh, they are," Or says, looking positively delighted about getting to dish some hot gossip. Their voice is lowered conspiratorially, which is fine, because you're still concerned about that angel that was watching you. Luckily, your group is about to go through a long tunnel made of leaves and flowers grown over a series of metal archways, which should hide you from view for a moment.

"I thought they were close friends," Shax says. His good eye is shining, like his interest is piqued. You can't blame him - court drama is pretty fun to hear about.

"Of course they are, dear. They just don't see eye to eye on a few things," Or replies sweetly. "For one thing, Murmur is one of the few people in our social circle who actually likes Azza. I don't think Eligos was happy when he announced his intention to bring Azza tonight. So naturally, the only acceptable response was to bring a date Murmur would hate just as much."

"But Marax hasn't been back to Hell in years," you say, still a little surprised that Marax really turned up here, on this night. It seems improbable. Then again, so does the fact that you showed up with Ornias Bathinson on your arm.

"He and Eligos are friends," Xezbeth says, before Or can answer. "He probably did it as a favor. Eligos visits Marax on Earth sometimes, and lets Shax and I know how he's doing. Not that we care."
>>
No. 932756 ID: f950b0
File 155778181657.png - (233.18KB , 700x600 , 47.png )
932756

You're finally deep enough in the tunnel that you're sure you aren't being watched, and you stop walking, earning yourself odd looks from the rest of the group. You don't want to linger in here too long - someone else might come through, or the angel might get suspicious - but it's good enough cover for a brief, private conversation.

"Did anyone else see that angel watching us out there?" you ask.

Shax shakes his head, though he looks curious. Xezbeth frowns slightly, and Or looks a little confused.

"What angel?" they ask.

"Short, chubby, big braid going down their back?" You gesture vaguely with your hands to try and indicate what you mean. "Wearing a cape?"
>>
No. 932757 ID: f950b0
File 155778183321.png - (245.07KB , 700x600 , 48.png )
932757

"That sounds like Suriel," Or says, recognition suddenly sparking in their eyes. "They're Jasper's head servant, I think, or something like it. They help organize his parties."

"I thought they were just his lover," Xezbeth says, arching an eyebrow.

"I heard they were an undercover spy sent down to get dirt on him," Shax says, quite confidently. "And he's bribing them to make them stick around as his bodyguard, so no other agents of Heaven can get to him."

You, Xezbeth, and Or all stare at Shax for a moment. It's not exactly the most outlandish thing you've heard of a demon doing, but it would be...pretty ballsy for a demon of Jasper's relatively low standing to try and bribe (or even blackmail) an agent of Heaven into working for him. That's definitely not an offer most angels would accept.

Still, if Suriel really is Jasper's bodyguard...you might be in some trouble.
>>
No. 932758 ID: 7011e0

well even if they're his head servant, it's still probably bad they're out here staring at us instead of running the show with the other servants... another reason to keep on our toes
>>
No. 932762 ID: 2af340

look over your shoulder
also, ask for some goss on azza!
>>
No. 932770 ID: 10c408

Note to self, learn how to sketch portraits on the fly. A little bit of near-exact drawing of basically anything important can go SO FAR with all the subterfuge and intrigue we're getting caught up in lately.

And as far as Suriel goes... Well, we brought Arty's feather and the dagger for a reason. (second note to self, self defense lesson from Camio would be nice.)

That said... Keep gossiping and moving through the garden. Direct everyone to a more open area so that you can keep a better eye out on things.
>>
No. 932807 ID: 70df1e

Keep one hand on arty's feather and be ready to use it just in case Suriel starts following even more into the garden!

Also with so many conflicting accounts of what they do, maybe they just do... Everything? A head servant who kisses a man and take a bribe. Or maybe its all gossip except for the servant bit, because I can't think of any other reason they'd be at this party. Still, worth keeping an eye on.
>>
No. 932841 ID: 7e9c89

make certain to stay with a group! or at LEAST your date. could be dangerous..
>>
No. 932869 ID: c0641d

Exercise healthy observation of your surroundings as you continue:

"Well, to be honest, clearing up some of my confusion regarding the nature of Jasper's angel compatriot is one of my motives for coming here. I mean, wouldn't you want to know what the deal is with an angel associating themselves with a demon surrounded by such, ah, choice rumors? Simply knowing her name and gender now can already be considered a small victory, in fact. But of course, that alone is small potatoes - stuff you could have told me about (and did). If anyone is up for some tailing... but ah, let us not talk of such skullduggery. As we leave the privacy of this arbor, shall we continue making thinly veiled mockery about Azza?"
>>
No. 933562 ID: c1eaac
File 155841007630.png - (277.55KB , 700x600 , 49.png )
933562

"Well, perhaps they just do everything," you say, mostly joking - but still quietly unsettled by the way Suriel seems to be keeping an eye on you. At least you have options, when it comes to protection.

You lead the group out of the tunnel and back onto the path proper, winding through the garden and idling your time away until it's safe to go back in. Or until dinner starts, you suppose. You try to watch Suriel surreptitiously, but they haven't moved from their post at the entrance to the hedge maze.

"Tell me more about Azza," you say, eager to change the subject now that you're somewhere you can be seen and heard. "I'm afraid I don't know him very well."

"Well, he's old money, but he's never attached himself to any suitors for long. If you ask me, I think his older sibling steals most of them away for sport. And because they're quite pretty," Or says, quick on the draw as usual when it comes to gossip. "He and Eligos have been courting the same pair of humans for a while, now, and it's turned into a bit of a rivalry. One of the humans favors Eligos, and the other favors Azza, but neither of them will make a choice because they favor each other most of all. It's all very dramatic."

Or sighs happily, then glances over to Xezbeth. "I'm surprised you hadn't heard about that, Xezbeth dear. I'd have thought that you and Eligos could commiserate, when it comes to dating humans."
>>
No. 933563 ID: c1eaac
File 155841008540.png - (166.94KB , 700x600 , 50.png )
933563

Xezbeth makes an offended noise in her throat, and looks as though she's about to snap at Or, but is cut off before she can even begin by a loud BANG. It's the door to the patio slamming open, and you realize with dismay that Murmur is the one who opened it. He looks a mess - hair in disarray, wine on his shirt - and you find yourself wondering how so much could have happened to him in such little time.

"ORNIAS," he says loudly, spotting the group you're with. "YOUR COUSIN IS A REAL SON OF A BITCH."
>>
No. 933565 ID: c1eaac
File 155841009709.png - (163.10KB , 700x600 , 51.png )
933565

Or grimaces, looking extremely put out.

"I should handle this," they say, beginning to politely disentangle themself from the group. "I don't think it will take too long. Glas, you're welcome to stay with your siblings -"
>>
No. 933566 ID: c1eaac
File 155841012757.png - (58.68KB , 700x600 , 52.png )
933566

Just out of curiosity, you glance back at the hedges, towards Suriel. They're gone. You catch a glimpse of their cape trailing away, farther into the maze.
>>
No. 933568 ID: 7011e0

okay we are /not/ going to follow suriel into the murder maze because that would be a terrible idea. let's stick with our siblings please
>>
No. 933569 ID: 70df1e

go with or!! they're our DATE!

also i really want to see the drama. what happened to you in all of fifteen seconds murmur. i want answers. blease
>>
No. 933570 ID: 10c408

Honestly? Either go with Or or don't and stay with your siblings.

Above all else we should NOT follow Suriel into the hedge maze.

Also if at any point Murmur starts bitching about your family, just smack talk Marax.
>>
No. 933572 ID: 2af340

murder maze tempting......
to be fair the last time we followed an angel didn't turn out great (for jasper)
>>
No. 933574 ID: 10c408

>>933572
He got better, though.

And we're still trying to figure out what else happened that night.
>>
No. 933591 ID: 3272af

gotta stick w or!
>>
No. 933593 ID: 869963

GO WITH YOUR DATE
>>
No. 933604 ID: c0641d

They're your date, let them decide. "Well, you are my date. It would be unseemly to abandon you at such a difficult moment... Unless you think it would go smoother without me and my siblings. Shall us Labolases three make ourselves scarce in the hedge maze in the meantime?" (Siblings seems the least interesting option, but combining them with tailing the angel seems much safer than going in on our own.)
>>
No. 933615 ID: c7f906

>>933574
For all you know they were fooling around. In fact that should be your alibi.

Go with your date into the lion's den.
>>
No. 936666 ID: c1eaac
File 156110590377.png - (225.23KB , 700x600 , 53.png )
936666

"I'd rather go with you, Duchess. You are my date, after all," you say smoothly, taking Or's arm. You're a little more invested in knowing just what happened to Murmur than you are in following an angel into a maze, mostly because of what happened the last time you followed an angel anywhere.

"That's very sweet of you," Or says, with a long-suffering sigh. "I suppose we'd better go and keep Murmur company, then. Xezbeth, Shax, we'll catch up with the two of you later. Please don't feel obligated to wait on our account."

"We won't," Shax says, looking suddenly eager to be literally anywhere else. You can't say you blame him.

Xezbeth smirks, already pulling Shax along down the path. "Offer the duke my condolences for having to deal with Marax, will you?"

Murmur huffs, tapping his foot impatiently as the seconds tick by without anyone addressing his problems.
>>
No. 936667 ID: c1eaac
File 156110593278.png - (283.11KB , 700x600 , 54.png )
936667

"Murmur, dear," Or says, instantly affecting a gentler tone and a more sympathetic look as they tug you over towards the duke. You're impressed by how quickly they can change their whole attitude like that, but you suppose they're used to dealing with Murmur when he's like this. "What exactly did Eligos do? Surely it can't have been that bad."

"He brought Marax here," Murmur grumbles, sullenly.

"Well, yes, but you brought Azza, and you know how Eligos hates Azza," Or says. "Did you pick a fight with him?"

"Of course I picked a fight with him!" Murmur snaps, sounding awfully petulant. "He came over to say hello and, you know, flaunt his date, and I challenged him to a duel."

You think to yourself that challenging someone to duel because they brought your ex to a party seems like a bit of an overreaction. Neither you or Or gets a chance to express this sentiment, because Murmur is still talking.

"Eligos said that he wouldn't duel me," he continues. "Like the coward he is. All, 'I would hate to turn this party into a pissing match, Murmur' and 'you and I both know you can't swing a sword, Murmur'. What a prick."

"You can't swing a sword," Or says, pointedly.
>>
No. 936668 ID: c1eaac
File 156110595341.png - (336.18KB , 700x600 , 55.png )
936668

"Anyway," Murmur goes on, like he didn't even hear them, "I said that it was funny he'd brought a date to Jasper's, because I'd have thought he would want to find a date here. Considering his propensity for fucking both angels and servants."

Or is silent for a long moment, their gaze a little more calculating than it was before. You can't blame them - Eligos is their cousin, and they must feel a little more charitably towards him in this situation. It certainly sounds like he kept a much cooler head about things than Murmur did.

"And then?" Or asks, gently.

"And then I told Marax all about how his date has been fucking Heaven's diplomats-in-training," Murmur says, a little smugly.
>>
No. 936669 ID: c1eaac
File 156110597338.png - (269.23KB , 700x600 , 56.png )
936669

You glance up to Or, wondering if you should be startled by this information, because you kind of are. The diplomats-in-training are all around your age, so it would be fine for Eligos to court them otherwise, but angels tend to be pretty naive about Hell and demonkind unless they travel here on the regular. And Eligos is known to host diplomats, plus he has a brother who is a diplomat for Hell...it all seems very messy. Or doesn't look surprised in the slightest, though.

"And then?" they ask, again.

"And then Eligos threw wine on me, like a son of a bitch," Murmur reports. "And then I came out here."
>>
No. 936670 ID: c1eaac
File 156110599976.png - (187.64KB , 700x600 , 57.png )
936670

"You really shouldn't have said that to him in front of everyone," Or says. They still sound a little sympathetic, but much less so than they did before. "How would you like it if I went inside and told the whole room that you've been making time in your day to see Diplomat Ophiel?"

Murmur cringes, glancing towards you. "Ornias, we shouldn't -"

"Everyone in our tea group sees angels on the side, Murmur, and we have an agreement to keep each others' secrets," Or says, a little dangerously, letting go of you and taking a step towards Murmur. "You're lucky Eligos didn't do worse than spill his wine on you. Besides, I'm sure you two will make up soon." They straighten up, all smiles again. "Until then, you ought to keep me out of it. I have a date to entertain, as you can see."
>>
No. 936671 ID: c1eaac
File 156110601521.png - (134.57KB , 700x600 , 58.png )
936671

Murmur opens his mouth to protest, but Or is already dragging you back inside, where you can guess he probably won't follow after being humiliated. As the door swings shut behind you, Or eases an arm around your waist, steering you to a quieter corner of the room.

"I'm sorry you had to see that," they say brightly. "I did try to spare you from it. Now, do you want to try and meet up with your siblings again, or shall we go somewhere else?"

You gape at them, still processing everything they and Murmur just said. There's a lot happening right now, and Or expects you to make a choice, just like that?

> Find Shax and Xezbeth.
> Talk to someone else.
> Suggest going somewhere private.
> Something else?
>>
No. 936672 ID: c1eaac

special thanks to alyssa for collab-ing with me on this update :3
>>
No. 936674 ID: 7e9c89

S...SUGGEST GOING SMWHERE PRIVATE. IDK IF THEY MEAN IT LIKE THAT BUT THEY'RE PRETTY and everything is abit overwhelming rn
>>
No. 936680 ID: 73c479

there is a LOT going on here. i'm for going somewhere private (not necessarily Like That, though, hey, why not-) i just think we could use a breather. or we could scope out how the rest of the party is going (food? refreshments?) and maybe introduce ourselves to someone new. Foxglove?
>>
No. 936681 ID: 10c408

"Thank you, Duchess. But I can't avoid high society and it's intrigue for weeks at a time."

Ask Ornias about Ophiel.
>>
No. 936683 ID: b0b724

thanks alyssa

Somewhere private. It feels important that you know more about the clique you're involving yourself in but it's somewhat tiring as well. It'd be nice to just spend some time chatting about something pleasant with your lovely date.
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No. 937833 ID: c1eaac
File 156195263393.png - (205.37KB , 700x600 , 59.png )
937833

"A moment alone might be nice. Though I will try not to keep you too myself for too long," you say, chancing a sheepish sort of smile at Or. Everything is a bit overwhelming right now, and you feel like you could use a breather before going back out and talking to anyone else. Hopefully there's no harm in being honest about that.

"Oh, don't worry about that. I'm sure we'll be here long enough that hardly anyone will notice if you steal me away for a bit," Or says, with a tittering little laugh. "Let's find a sitting room before all the good ones are taken, shall we?"

They offer you their arm, and you take it gratefully, allowing them to lead you down a hallway in search of somewhere you can be alone together.
>>
No. 937834 ID: c1eaac
File 156195264342.png - (201.46KB , 700x600 , 60.png )
937834

"Who is Diplomat Ophiel?" you ask them, as you make your way down the hall.

"No one terribly important," Or says airily. "They're an older diplomat in charge of the class Eligos hosts at his estate sometimes. Murmur is rather smitten with them, though I'm under the impression they're both trying to keep their little fling under wraps."

Interesting. You think you saw Murmur with an angel at some point, but when did that happen? It's hard to recall. Maybe that was Ophiel - or maybe he's involved with more than one angel? Demons of his social status really do get around, but Murmur more than others. On account of the incubus thing. And the still-getting-over-being-left-at-the-altar thing.
>>
No. 937835 ID: c1eaac
File 156195265821.png - (130.14KB , 700x600 , 61.png )
937835

Before you can think of how to respond properly, Or tugs you into an apparently abandoned study, shutting the door behind them. Bookshelves line either side of the room, with a large, wooden desk as the centerpiece, set slightly towards the back wall. It's a nice enough study, if not a little dusty and clearly underused. You don't get the impression that Jasper is much of a reader.

"So," Or says, dragging the word out into a purr, and perching on the edge of the desk. They reach up and behind them to undo their hairpin, letting their hair cascade down around their face and over their shoulders as they regard you curiously, almost mischievously. You feel pinned in place by their gaze. "What else do you want to talk about?"
>>
No. 937837 ID: 2af340

😏
>>
No. 937846 ID: 70df1e

k...kiss...
>>
No. 937850 ID: b0b724

I was going to suggest you talk about Ornias anyway, get to know them, their hobbies, what they like. But it kinda seems like they don't want to use words necessarily...
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No. 937857 ID: 10c408

"To be honest, I was hoping to talk about you for a change. I am... Well, feeling very overwhelmed by court intrigue and have been wondering how you deal with the stress of it."

Try to not get smitten with countess Ornias. Absolutely fail at it.
>>
No. 937913 ID: 7011e0

oh no pretty demon
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No. 937949 ID: 02e2dc

sloppy makeouts???
>>
No. 938160 ID: 2bfdf5

OH NO THEYRE HOT AND IM GAY
UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH



thats. probably in character for glas actually
"i wanted to--get to know you better?"
>>
No. 938553 ID: ce39da

"I may not have been considering this when I expressed my desire to get a breather from the party."
>>
No. 940776 ID: c1eaac
File 156436895520.png - (115.70KB , 700x600 , 62.png )
940776

You feel very sweaty all of the sudden. There's no question that Or is very pretty, and you are very attracted to them, however much you may be trying not to become absolutely smitten. You're pretty sure that Or has never been formally courted by or engaged to anyone, so they probably aren't a solid marriage prospect, but...well. Marriage is the furthest thing from your mind right now, as it so happens.

"I - I wanted to get to know you better," you say, practically choking out the words.
>>
No. 940777 ID: c1eaac
File 156436897426.png - (211.18KB , 700x600 , 63.png )
940777

"Oh?" Or smiles at you again, stretching languidly. "Well, I do love to talk about myself. What would you like to know?"

"Anything," you say, perhaps a bit too eagerly. "Your hobbies. What you do when you're not at court. How you handle yourself so well when you are at court. The stress -"

"Is exhausting, I know." They titter out a little laugh. "Most of my time at home is spent relaxing, when I'm not hosting parties. I spend time with my lovers, let myself be doted on by my staff...sometimes I go boating or swimming in the lake between my and Eligos's estates."
>>
No. 940778 ID: c1eaac
File 156436898666.png - (167.45KB , 700x600 , 64.png )
940778

You try your best not to picture Or in a bathing suit, but it's happening anyway. You are so fucked.
>>
No. 940779 ID: c1eaac
File 156436900763.png - (159.63KB , 700x600 , 65.png )
940779

"I didn't know you and Eligos lived so close to each other," you say, latching on to what seems like a safe topic of conversation.

"Oh, yes. Our servants practically all know each other. Mine are always sneaking across the lake to use his library. He told one the password in good faith, and now they all know it." Or laughs again. "I don't have very many books, so they have to find them where they can, I suppose."

"You don't read?" you ask.

"Not if I can help it," they say, with a shrug. "I have other things to occupy my time just as well. Eligos has his library, and I have my kitchen."

Right. You remember hearing that Or is something of a gourmand like Shax is, with the notable exception of only having one mouth to eat with. You've also heard the head chef in their estate is one of the best in Hell.

"The macarons you sent were delicious," you say, finally remembering to thank them for that particular gift.

"Aren't they?" Or asks, their eyes lighting up. "They're some of my favorites. You really must come for tea sometime, my kitchen staff makes the best little cakes and sandwiches. Of course, it will ruin all other tea services for you forever, but I think it's worth it."
>>
No. 940780 ID: c1eaac
File 156436902389.png - (108.52KB , 700x600 , 66.png )
940780

"I would love to accompany you for tea," you say, a little pleased to see Or so pleased and animated. They're somehow even prettier when they're talking about something they're passionate about. You'll have to remember to send them home with one of your calling cards.

"Then you must," they agree. "Now, are you going to kiss me or not? I've been waiting very patiently."

You feel yourself becoming even sweatier. You do very much want to kiss Or, but you have the sense that it might turn into something that will cause you to miss a great deal of the party, or to be walked in on in a compromising position. And you still have no idea where Jasper is, or where Suriel went. Do you feel comfortable getting intimate here?
>>
No. 940781 ID: 02e2dc

fuck it, smooch ornias
>>
No. 940783 ID: 2af340

you gotta kiss that Or!!!
>>
No. 940784 ID: 7011e0

remind or we are in a precarious position at this party BUT kiss them anyway
>>
No. 940790 ID: 10c408

Politely remind Or that you and Jasper aren't on the best of terms, so you'll take a little percaution first.

Put a chair under the doorknob. Then whirl around and snog the duchess already, Labolas.
>>
No. 940793 ID: 643d7e

personally i think or is more powerful than jasper like. look at them. kiss them and damn the consequences
>>
No. 940802 ID: 0a048d

kiss! kiss! kiss!
>>
No. 940809 ID: 44b1b5

Take some precautions against intruders first.
>>
No. 941555 ID: b5bc34

Tell them that you definitely shouldn't miss out on the party or be in such a precarious situation.

Obviously kiss them anyway.
>>
No. 941639 ID: 2ca8bd

Are you really gonna turn an offer like that down?
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