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File 155272171750.png - (206.30KB , 800x525 , title3.png )
925961 No. 925961 ID: 270774

VIVA LAS VEGAS!

This quest is R18.
chapter one: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/897413.html
chapter two: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/910050.html
disthread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/124805.html
patreon: https://www.patreon.com/iraprince
Expand all images
>>
No. 925962 ID: 270774
File 155272175272.png - (154.15KB , 800x525 , 391.png )
925962

“Hello, boys.”

Kel’s standing tall in the center of the room, backed by five other women. As Ricardo closes the door behind him, she starts to stride towards him, and the women follow. “Good drive in? Took you long enough.”

“Yeah, uh —”

“Hope you got plenty of mileage out of that ass of yours,” Kel continues, brightly, “because it belongs to me now.”
>>
No. 925963 ID: 270774
File 155272176791.png - (110.11KB , 800x525 , 392.png )
925963

There’s a ripple of laughter behind her. She steps to the side and inclines her head at the vampire standing to the far left of the line. “Lieutenant. How about some introductions? Let’s start off by telling Ribeye here what we’re all about.”

The woman takes one step forward and smiles. “Good evening. I am Basilia de Issoire, aide-de-camp to my most beloved General Gallowglass. When I am heading training of wards, as I am now, it is only necessary to call me Mignon.” As she speaks, her hands are lifted and in movement, which Ricardo recognizes as a form of sign language but doesn’t understand; she only pauses for a moment to sweep one arm out, indicating the other women in the line. “And this is the 70th Infantry Squadron of the Gallowglass Horde.”
>>
No. 925964 ID: 270774
File 155272178575.png - (154.76KB , 800x525 , 393.png )
925964

The wards roar. Ricardo flinches back, startled by the sudden wave of noise; Mignon seems unaffected.

“70th Squadron,” Mignon calls, “what are you?”

“MEAT FOR THE MACHINE,” the women scream. Ricardo’s ears are ringing.

“And what does that make everyone else?”

“CATTLE FEED!”

“That’s right. And what is the machine?”

“WAR!”

Ricardo notices that one of the wards isn’t yelling along; but her hands are moving, in crisp, powerful motions. Mignon signing as she speaks is presumably for her.

“What feeds you?”

“WAR!”

“What drives you?”

“WAR!”

There’s a pleasant little smile on Mignon’s lips. “What fucks you to sleep at night?”

The responding roar is apocalyptic. “WAR!”

Mignon starts to walk down the line, inclining her head at each woman in turn. “And does anyone do it better than us?”

“HELL NO!”

She stops, at the other end of the line, back as straight as a flagpole. “Why is that, girls?”

When they scream their response, Ricardo feels like the air is vibrating. “BECAUSE THERE AIN’T NO BITCH LIKE A GALLOWGLASS BITCH!”

“You’re damn right,” Mignon says, softly. She looks over her shoulder at Ricardo. “And, ladies? What do we do with fresh meat?”

All eyes are suddenly on Ricardo. The women’s teeth glint. “TENDERIZE IT!”
>>
No. 925965 ID: 270774
File 155272180287.png - (126.37KB , 800x525 , 394.png )
925965

Ricardo blinks, getting his bearings. He already feels very, very much in over his head. When he glances over to his side, Pascal just seems kind of dazzled. Easy for him, Ricardo thinks, when none of this is being directed at him.

“I like to get right down to business,” Kel says, snapping him back to attention, “so let’s make this quick. We don’t need any real pleasantries, right?”
>>
No. 925966 ID: 270774
File 155272185075.png - (137.32KB , 800x525 , 395.png )
925966

She walks the same line Mignon has just traveled. She stops behind the first, the woman who was moving her hands during the call-and-response. Ricardo notes that, like Mignon, Kel signs simultaneously as she speaks.

“First, meet Sirloin. Top of her class —” There’s an immediate clamoring of displeasure from the other three women, and Kel rolls her eyes. “Shut it! Shut the fuck up. You don’t like me saying she’s better than you? Then get better than her, and I won’t say it anymore. Simple as that.”

The wards settle down, and Sirloin lifts her hands. When she starts signing, Kel interprets aloud. “‘It’s my pleasure to meet you, Ribeye. I’m looking forward to —’” There’s a stumble in the interpretation as Kel snorts at what Sirloin is saying, but she picks it up again quickly. “‘I’m looking forward to being better than you, too.’”

She drops her hands again, grinning, and Kel glances over. “Pascal, you never learned VSL, huh?”

“Hm?” Pascal seems a little startled to be addressed, and he sways on the spot, hands clasped behind his back. “Well, no. Only emissaries of my house learn it.”

“Well, you’re gonna want to. Especially you, Ribeye. Strip usually interprets for her when necessary, since she’s got the most knack for it, but Sirloin’s funnier direct.” Sirloin smiles a little wider and lifts her hands again, and Kel slips back to interpreting seamlessly. “‘None of you get the timing quite right.’”
>>
No. 925967 ID: 270774
File 155272187518.png - (138.50KB , 800x525 , 396.png )
925967

“Speaking of Strip, here she is.” Kel comes to stand by the next woman in line, who’s practically vibrating with suppressed energy. “She’s actually originally from the 65th Squadron, turned in 2008, but she got held back on account of, uh…” Kel crosses her arms, head tilted thoughtfully. “Behavioral issues.”

“I’m gonna twist your fucking head off like a milk cap, bitch,” says Strip.

“She doesn’t exactly play nice with others,” Kel continues, “but, uh, it’ll probably be fine. Or it won’t be, whatever. I don’t care.”
>>
No. 925968 ID: 270774
File 155272189759.png - (141.78KB , 800x525 , 397.png )
925968

“And next is Rack —”

“Hiya!” says Rack. She immediately barrels onward, before Kel even has a chance to say anything about her. “I’m so excited to meet you! This is real unusual, you know. Kel normally doesn’t train other people’s wards. I’m so looking forward to spending time with you, or at least a little bit, since we’re probably gonna pulverize you so bad that you give up and bail! But try to hold out long enough for us to become friends, okay?”

“Okay,” says Ricardo, helplessly. Kel is snickering.
>>
No. 925969 ID: 270774
File 155272220904.png - (147.39KB , 800x525 , 398.png )
925969

Kel comes to a stop at the end of the line, and rests her hand on Lamb’s shoulder. “And you’ve met Lamb, of course. Kind of the runt of the litter.”

Strip lets out a rough bark of laughter, and Rack titters. Lamb doesn’t react. “She’s lagging behind the others, but it’s not for lack of trying, I’ll tell you that.” Kel lifts her eyes again, pinning Ricardo with her strong gaze. “And I’ll tell you something else. Sparring with her is different, because she and I have this agreement, alright?”

She lets go of Lamb’s shoulder, and Ricardo is very, very aware of how hard Lamb is staring at him. Her expression is not friendly. “Lamb and I have this agreement that any time she’s in combat, with any vampire who isn’t one of her covenmates — she can go all the way, if she can manage it. She can kill ‘em. I’m not allowed to intervene.”
>>
No. 925970 ID: 270774
File 155272223105.png - (118.89KB , 800x525 , 399.png )
925970

With a few more steps, Kel comes to stand by Mignon’s side. “So, that’s basic introductions. We all know each other’s names, and that’s enough for me. Which means we can get down training.”

“Kel, we have not even seen our room yet,” Pascal complains. “We have been traveling! He is tired!”

“Cradle goons aren’t gonna wait til you’re nice and well-rested before trying to dismember you,” Kel replies cheerfully. “We start now. That’s it.” She gives Ricardo a toothy grin as she continues. “Now, I’m not gonna let you spar with Mignon, because you just wouldn’t learn anything from that. I mean, if anything, you’d just learn how much agony your body can handle before you pass out, which isn’t real useful at this stage. For the same reason, you can’t spar with me, either.” She sweeps her arm out at the remaining three women, the same way Mignon did before. “So pick somebody else.”
>>
No. 925972 ID: 094652

"CHASING MATCH WITH RACK GO"

Start by flying away at full speed, but the moment you're out of sight play it smart and disguise your scent while crouching behind a dresser or something.
>>
No. 925973 ID: c1eaac

let's spar with rack? she seems to like us the most, even if she's going to try and pulverize us. plus she's not top of the class, and she won't fight like, uh, a berserker. might give us a good unbiased-ish look at how kel's wards are trained to fight.
>>
No. 925975 ID: 7e9c89

rack!! for making friends reasons! vamps are all cool with hyperviolence anyways at this rate so.. better to get accustomed fast and try'n make new friends outside training. or through fighting. either one
>>
No. 925976 ID: 2791fd

rack is super a trap. she looks round and safe but shes going to dismember us and smile while she does it

pick strip. she's going todismember us but she'll at least be straightforward about it
>>
No. 925977 ID: 9fcd43

I feel like Rack is a trap. It's always the nice ones you have to watch out for. Let's take on Strip; if she's that angry it might be easier to get her to trip up.
>>
No. 925979 ID: c8452a

Rack. Convince her that getting thrashed and broken isn't going to stop you from trying again. If you can manage it, you'll actually have someone who wants you to succeed.

Though maybe Kel at least hopes you'll succeed, but you don't need to prove it to her in the same way.
>>
No. 925981 ID: 70df1e

i vote lamb which yes, i understand is hubris but guys we cannot back down from what is clearly a challenge or kels wards will never respect us. go for it and worst comes to worst just turn to smoke and back the hell off.
>>
No. 925982 ID: 8ca664

RACK because anyone else would kill us
>>
No. 925983 ID: c8452a

>>925981
I don't want to end the quest yet.
>>
No. 925984 ID: 10c408

Honestly? We're gonna get our ass whupped here no matter who we picked.

So based off of that, no one is gonna respect us when Rack puts us on the ground and sits on us. Strip's out because she'll probably go overboard and make our beating hurt more than it's needed.

Lamb is out because fuck that noise.

Which leaves us with Sirloin. We probably can't understand anything she'll say with VSL, but... Well, pain is a universal language and maaybe she'll make it stop when it's clear we've had enough of it.

Also we might get slight respect for foolish bravery points by picking the ace.
>>
No. 925991 ID: cfe8e9

LET'S GET OUR ASS KICKED BY RACK IMMEDIATELY
>>
No. 925992 ID: 9f39fb

Oh I really wanna fight Sirloin, I know she'll kick our ass since she's top of the class, but I love her style and I feel like we could pick up a few things from her
>>
No. 925993 ID: 4d7c28

straight up too much if a huge lesbian to get my two braincells to cooperate to pick gal
>>
No. 925994 ID: b1b4f3

Looks like the voting's a bit one-sided.
I'd rate the risk from low to high like so:
Rack
Sirloin
Strip
Lamb

I wouldn't pick Rack or Lamb. Go with Sirloin! She's the top of the class so if you're very observant you'll learn the most. Also I like her.
>>
No. 925995 ID: 26262d

Absolutely go for Sirloin, she's obviously too strong for us but it would be great to see fighting panels of her
>>
No. 925996 ID: 23dc9d

Rack seems much too friendly for a vampire and that is terrifying altogether.

And Lamb is not a good choice after Fractal said these spars will now be super hard because of our last win.

Between Sirloin and Strip, Strip seems much more straightforward as far as how she will beat us up but at the same time I am not sure how much we will get from that. Sirloin might have something up her sleeve we haven't come across that we can learn to fight against, so my vote goes to her.
>>
No. 925997 ID: 26262d

Also that is very important but don't you think about fighting here. Go to the roof. Bring the puppet.
>>
No. 925998 ID: c8452a

>>925997
There's a whiff of grey face paint off of this...

Anyway, I definitely see the benefits of fighting Sirloin. Rack is still my number one, but if it's close my second is Sirloin.
>>
No. 926000 ID: fde9cb

okay so Strip, Rack and Lamb all kind of seem like they have something wild about them. Strip is a berserker, Rack is too nice to not be suspicious, Lamb is just scary. Sirloin seems the least wild card-y of them. like, she's the top student and she'll dismantle us, but in a pretty straightforward way . nothing too out of left field.

that said i love Lamb SO much. I wanna see her in action. yes Kel gave her permission to kill, but her Good Girl Guilt meter is way up there - there's a chance she might not actually do it. plus she's made out to be the weakest of the bunch. BUT challenging the clear weakest is probably gonna get us laughed at. might as well accept fate and let Sirloin take us apart. i want to vote Lamb but I have to say Sirloin
>>
No. 926004 ID: 8a58ca

LAMB she’d be the most fun to get our shit kicked in and maybe ended by.

I don’t think rack is a trap as such, I think it’s more she’s probably good at this and wanting to be friends isn’t something that will cross her mind as she tears us apart.

Also, ask Pascal his thoughts and also say that since its you they’re training he might as well check out the room and buy more, uh, you know, supplies
>>
No. 926005 ID: b44e0e

My poor lesbian brain is actually loosing it's shit. I love all these meat women and would love to have my ass handed to me on the edge of their claws anytime.
Ricardo on the other hand....
Rack seems like she would make a good friend, even if she nearly kills him.
Lamp is off the table, she would actually kill him.
Strip seems hella cool, but kinda a wild card. She was in a diffrent squad, but she could be really fun.
Sirloin, while also hella cool, would be a clear dumb move. We know she's top student and Kel already knows we're willing to make risky moves when it benefits. This is a good excuses to try and pick up some vamp sign language. Immortality is the best excuse to learn more languages.

So for a fight my vote is Rack, just so we can properly meet her.
>>
No. 926008 ID: c8452a

>>925998
Oh sorry, but we should definitely make it clear we want to learn VSL.
>>
No. 926010 ID: ec5e34

BE A DUMBASS AND PICK LAMB AND SAY SOMETHING CHEESY ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF WAR BEING A GREAT WAY TO MEET EVERYONE AND INTRODUCE YOURSELF SORRY FOR CAPS LOCK BUT ALL THE GIRLS MAKWEME FOAM AT MY MOUTH AND IMPEDE MY ABILITY TO THINK VIA MY GIGANTIC LESBIANISM ALSO THIS IS THE BEST AND IM LOSING MY ENTIRE MIND AND ALSO ALSO THIS IS BEAR ILU IM SO HYPED FOR THIS ARC
>>
No. 926011 ID: 9dad72

These are all REALLY good choices - I would love to see us fight Lamb, because even though she's labeled as the runt she is the biggest threat of death atm. That takes balls
>>
No. 926012 ID: 2e6ab7

Oh, I vote Sirloin! Hopefully it'll make us look like were ready to learn and up for a challenge, plus then we get the opportunity for a whole shonen training arc where we start off real cocky, fall on our ass miserably, then train a bunch and one day have a rematch and win!
Unrelated but god, Fractal, my poor gay heart over this update. You're killing me (thank you)
>>
No. 926013 ID: 7c1ffe

Lamb continues to be the biggest of gender hostile lesbian moods.

I vote Strip. She seems like she'll fight the most straightforward at least. Or Lam because we're in Vegas, might as well go high stakes all the way!
>>
No. 926014 ID: 9dad72

I'm leaning toward sparrin with either Sirloin (lots to learn from) or Lamb (more on our level but, also we've been indirectly challenged by the "she gets to kill you if she can" spiel). Rack looks like she'd knock us flat, I think she does genuinely want to know us but, that has no bearing on sparring power lol. Though she *does* seem to want us to succeed.

Do not engage Strip until we've seen what she can do. (But on the other hand, we can survive decapitating, it might be a good experience to have that happen at least once under training conditions so we know what it feels like)
>>
No. 926016 ID: 465a14

>>925966
Tangential, but VSL seems similar to ASL- that's the sign for better/best there.
>>
No. 926018 ID: 0f15ab

I’d say strip or sirloin, but leaning towards strip! She seems straightforward (not that any of them are straight hehe)
>>
No. 926019 ID: 0c42cf

oh hey — is it rude to ask what affinity everyone is before ricardo decides for real?
>>
No. 926020 ID: b54723

Rack looks like she'll beat us into an inch of our life but she'll be willing to let us live so let's just fight her. The other girls are a toss-up.

Lamb while she may be weaker has been at this more than we have and she looks like she's more than willing to kill us. We should fight her later I think.
>>
No. 926021 ID: a49030

ok yes, rack city bitch rack rack city bitch
>>
No. 926022 ID: bb78f2

Strip
>>
No. 926023 ID: 6cf958

I know Rack is the top fav, but based just on this intro, I think Sirloin is the best option. With her ego and teacher's pet tendencies she might want to show off so while we're getting taken apart we'll probably learn the most.

But also. I'm love Sirloin? so I'm biased
>>
No. 926027 ID: 328640

go with Strip! you have a tendency to make people that want to rip your head off... kind of tolerate you in the end
>>
No. 926028 ID: 02e2dc

fhfhdjhfhf it's like this arc was tailor made for me. cute girls that want to kick my ass sign me UP

anyway uhhhh it feels like we're going to get the floor wiped with us no matter who we pick so.... i'm gonna go with rack because she's cute and i want to see her rip us apart
>>
No. 926029 ID: 1fc2c7

oh my god im a lesbian. oh my god. oh my god

go with rack or sirloin, definitely! we're gonna get our blood smeared across the floor no matter what but they seem like they want to get to know us, and the least likely to go overboard on us. i do like the idea of choosing strip and trying to get her to slip up, but i've got a feeling kel trains them too well for us to do that in our current untrained state.

also, won't be relevant for a while, but next time we have downtime i think we should try to get to know lamb....i know she's not very open to conversation but my heart hurt for her when kel called her the runt :( ricardo knows what it's like to be an outcast, so i think they could be friends
>>
No. 926030 ID: 02e2dc

OH YEAH AND LETS LEARN VSL
>>
No. 926040 ID: b463f2

oh, I love them all, I love them all so much, and we absolutely need to learn VSL.

I'm vote Rack because, I love her the most and need to see more of her in action. Strip or Sirloin would also be good, and I'm love Lamb buuuuuuuut don't want to put death death on the line here.
>>
No. 926042 ID: aedfd9

I vote Strip. Unlike Lamb and Sirloin, she won't Literally Kill Us, plus it might be easy to manipulate her into making mistakes via smack talk. She seems to wear her emotions on her sleeve, unlike Rack. We already tripped up Minoru into underestimating us, and it's probably our best tactic until we stop being so hopelessly outmatched.
>>
No. 926045 ID: 67bd02

be overwhelmed with an immense appreciation for women
>>
No. 926046 ID: 67bd02

>>926045
also i think we should pick strip. rack seems like the easy choice to not get our ass beat but we held our own against minmin and bunji, two extremely experienced vampires, so we should be able to at least not lose instantly against one of the stronger ones. and we know strip won't hold back, either, so we can properly gauge how out of our league they are
>>
No. 926050 ID: 10c408

>>926046
We only won vs those two because they didn't expect how much tricky shit we could pull out of ass.

They were also drunk, and even then we had to stall them by making it WEIRD long enough for Ricardo to recover from turning into smoke.

This is a one on one bout with trained combat wards. We're not going to do much more than get picked apart when we run out of tricks that only work once.
>>
No. 926070 ID: 3e7944

Girls girls girls :hearteyes: I vote for Sirloin, cause a) im gay and want to see her fight and b) top of the class may give us a sense of what is taught in the class
>>
No. 926075 ID: f5cc0e

STRIP! STRIP! WE GOTTA FIGHT STRIP! WE NEED OUR HEAD POPPED OFF LIKE A MILK CAP, BITCH!! FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES OF COURSE!!
>>
No. 926083 ID: c8452a

>>926019
Probably less important if it's rude or not, for this group, and more important that we're kinda simulating ambushes from enemies. Our enemies wouldn't tell us, so maybe our allies won't either.
>>
No. 926101 ID: ee3259

I vote sirloin bc i love her x1000000 but, like marn asked, can we find out their affinities first or will they crap all over us for asking
>>
No. 926103 ID: ee3259

alex's note about the fact that enemies wouldn't tell us is good... if we don't ask Kel, does Pascal know any of their affinities? Maybe he'd be able to let Ricardo know before the fight or if he noticed them during the fight
>>
No. 926105 ID: 745f93

>>926000

Lamb's Good Girl Guilt seems to point more toward a stance of "exterminate as many of the evil monsters that I've become as possible, as penance to God for living as one," than a genuine hesitation to kill fellow vampires imho. I'd absolutely take the warning as literal, personally.

I think that Sirloin is the best pick here. It shows that you're not afraid of a genuine challenge--where else to gamble with high stakes, if not Vegas?--and why wouldn't you want to learn from the top of the class, right?

Not to mention that, as mentioned by others, Rack and Lamb seem very much like pitfalls to trip you up. Kel's snickering at Rack's friendly greeting seems like a hint, especially. You don't want to seem easily fooled (Rack's friendly kindness) or easily goaded (the implied challenge re: Lamb), after all.

Much as I'd love to see him fight one of the others, too, I'm thinking Sirloin is the best pick. But, I'd absolutely see if Kel will share information about their affinities first--although--to be honest, I doubt it. Enemies wouldn't tell you their affinities, just like they won't wait until you're well-rested, right?
>>
No. 926106 ID: c8452a

>>926105
Agreed about the literal warning. I don't think it was a challenge.
>>
No. 926125 ID: 1f20b4

I say Strip for no reason Ricardo will be able to appreciate.
>>
No. 926128 ID: caccde

Definitely Sirloin. Best of class, no potential psychout moves, and knowing what fake it til you make vampire confidence looks like never hurts
>>
No. 926135 ID: 3225aa

>>926105
oh youre right
i change my vote to sirloin
>>
No. 926138 ID: 465a14

I'll vote Sirloin.
>>
No. 926155 ID: e3a778

It almost seemed like Rack purposefully cut Kel off before we could be given any actual information on her. She’s definitely hiding something. Like others have said, we’re getting our asses kicked no matter who we choose, so I vote Rack out of curiosity.
>>
No. 926214 ID: 33ca78

I vote Sirloin
>>
No. 926294 ID: 98dd16

fight lamb or die trying.

it's a good way to die.
>>
No. 926299 ID: b1e435

>>926294
>>
No. 926418 ID: f62d1c

lamb, definitely

there's no way kel can give her that sort of intro and pass up on the chance to see why
>>
No. 926422 ID: 270774
File 155305831590.png - (155.14KB , 800x525 , 400.png )
926422

“I don’t suppose there’s any chance of me finding out what everybody’s affinities are first?” Ricardo ventures.

“Absolutely not,” says Kel.

“Okay. Figures. Uh… I definitely am interested in learning VSL,” Ricardo says; and when he does Sirloin squints at him a little and then taps Strip’s arm, and Strip quickly signs something for her. Clarification, he assumes, if she was trying to read his lips and didn’t catch all of it, but that’s just speculation. Either way, Sirloin gives him a little smile that seems genuine, if a bit detached. “But, uh,” he continues, “for now… Rack. Why don’t we get to know each other?”

“Yes,” Rack hisses, bouncing on the spot. “Yes, yes, yes!”

“Coward,” Strip spits. Sirloin signs something at her and she scoffs. “I’m not being a bitch.”

“You’re bein’ a bitch,” Rack chimes in. She’s already starting to limber up, cycling through stretches that seem routine to her; the other wards are filing towards an open doorway in the far wall, one that presumably leads to a staircase up to the mezzanine ringing the walls of the ballroom.

“Pascal,” Kel calls. Pascal looks up quizzically. “Come on, you’re joining us up here. No backup. This is for Ribeye, by himself.”

“Oh, bah,” Pascal mutters, under his breath. He relents, though, taking Ricardo’s jacket off his shoulders before turning away. “Good luck, Ricardo! You, euhhh… you’ll do…” He tilts his head as he folds the jacket over his arm. “Well, you won’t die, I don’t think. I will cheer for you!”
>>
No. 926423 ID: 270774
File 155305832765.png - (110.13KB , 800x525 , 401.png )
926423

Soon enough, Rack and Ricardo are left alone on the ballroom floor as the others all find a spot leaning against the railings of the upper level.

“This is a friendly spar,” Kel yells out. Her voice echoes just a little, bounding off the polished parquet and the paneled walls. “For training purposes, got it? It stops when somebody surrenders or can’t fight anymore.”

“If you surrender, you don’t belong here,” Strip adds, in a snarl.

Kel leans back, one hand still gripping the railing. “True enough. Anyway, try not to kill each other, yeah?”

And with that, Ricardo assumes, the match has officially begun.
>>
No. 926424 ID: 270774
File 155305834090.png - (80.32KB , 800x525 , 402.png )
926424

“I guess I should tell you a little bit about myself,” Rack says.

Ricardo blinks. He’d already started sinking into a combat stance, and now he doesn’t know whether to relax or not. Probably better not.

She’s still stretching, idly, bending from one side to the other. “I’ll tell you my real name when I get it back from Kel, so for now Rack is it. I could never decide whether I wanted to be an actress or a fashion designer or a doctor, so I became a vampire to give myself time to do everything I want to.” She finally seems to finish stretching and straightens up again, shaking her hands out. “I’m single right now, and I’m a Libra. My favorite movie is Jawbreaker. Umm… I think that’s a good start, right, Ribeye?”

“Uh,” says Ricardo. He’s still half-crouching. “Okay.”

“The thing is I don’t really need you to tell me anything about yourself,” Rack continues. She’s started walking towards him, at a leisurely pace, and Ricardo instinctively walks backwards to maintain the distance. “I already know you pretty well.”

Ricardo furrows his brow — at least, a little deeper than it was already furrowed. “You don’t know anything about me.”
>>
No. 926425 ID: 270774
File 155305835481.png - (124.55KB , 800x525 , 403.png )
926425

https://open.spotify.com/track/1YxYWZv2wZL1oXjS53tVe7?si=_znUEjOXS6WYDIYiiWRtpQ

“Sure I do. You’re the kind of guy who doesn’t have any friends.” Rack’s smiling. Her eyes are wide. “Before all this, you worked a lot of different jobs, but you didn’t like any of them. When it was time to move on, you put in your two weeks and didn’t tell anybody but your managers. You always left without any of your coworkers even having your number.”

Ricardo’s getting close to the wall. More alarmingly, Rack’s assessment is accurate. That doesn’t mean anything, though. It can’t mean anything.

“You’re the kind of person who doesn’t make an impact on anybody’s life,” Rack continues brightly. “You’re furniture. You’re kind of a background character. People want to know more about you, but not bad enough to actually ask.”

“What are you talking about,” Ricardo hisses.

“Are you not into this topic? Some people don’t like to talk about themselves.” She claps her hands, once, softly. “Okay! Let’s change the subject. Your mom’s name is Andressa Castro, but she goes by Andy.”
>>
No. 926426 ID: 270774
File 155305836676.png - (85.26KB , 800x525 , 404.png )
926426

What?

“She drives a blue Toyota,” says Rack. Ricardo’s chest is tight. Is this panic? Is this what real panic feels like? “There’s a dent in the back left bumper, like she got rear-ended or something, and she still hasn’t gotten it fixed.”

Ricardo knows he doesn’t have to breathe, so he tries not to, because every inhale is ice cold. His head is pounding.

“She’s a general contractor, and when she gets home from work every night she has a scotch and water.”
>>
No. 926427 ID: 270774
File 155305837711.png - (119.56KB , 800x525 , 405.png )
926427

“Stop it,” Ricardo rasps. He’s thinking about his mom’s car, about the dent, about the stain on the back seat from when a can in the groceries exploded while he was sitting next to it. He’s thinking about the time they couldn’t find it in the parking lot after a day at fucking Six Flags and thought it had been stolen, but they were just remembering the wrong row. He’s thinking about his mom standing in front of the kitchen window with a glass of scotch in her hand. “What did you do —”

“Whoa, you okay?” Rack leans forward, frowning. “You don’t look so good!”
>>
No. 926431 ID: c8452a

Oh shit, she's a psychic. A mind-reader of some persuasion. It might also be effecting his emotions unnaturally. Not sure how to combat that, try thinking of brick walls or just trying to physically stay calm. Staying composed while also fighting is the best suggestion I have.

Possibly, Rack just did serious research but I doubt it.
>>
No. 926433 ID: 7e9c89

uh. i think if she leans in to ask if we're ok any further she is going to hit us so BACK UP...... if she's a psychic, i guess try to clear yourmind as much as possible before anything else?? either attack first, or tell her something else about you. she's not wrong, but you're not that anymore! you don't have to be
>>
No. 926434 ID: c1eaac

OK so rack has a psychic affinity, clearly. my other predictions that i'm gonna put here for posterity (based on what minmin said about the different personality types) are:

strip - power
sirloin - shifter
lamb - either psychic or specialist

that said, let's uhhhh focus on not giving rack the time or means to talk, since her affinity pretty clearly has some verbal component. give her an elbow or a knee to the jaw asap. will turning into mist clear ricardo's head maybe? esp if this also has to do with eye contact?
>>
No. 926435 ID: 70df1e

vampires heal fast right? like, really fast? just fuck up your own ears real quick. it'll hurt to pop your eardrums but the pain is temporary and rack cant use her powers on you if you cant hear her.

plus doing something so drastic will probably impress kel and the rest
>>
No. 926436 ID: 67bd02

god damn it i TOLD yall. she's a hypnotist and she's trying to get us in a state of panic so that she can manipulate us with her weirdass powers. let's just rush her, but even that's probably a trap so get ready to shift into something fast
>>
No. 926437 ID: c1eaac

>>926435

oh wait yeah i second this. pop your eardrums ricardo, they'll definitely heal. just shove your pinkies in there real hard and go for it.
>>
No. 926438 ID: cfe8e9

GROUND YOURSELF. you're here and now, your ma isn't here, rack can't hurt her while you're duelling with her. she's safe, and you're in a duel, and you need to fight back.

take just a moment to steady yourself, then launch into a CAREFUL physical attack. she's counting on you to be too rattled to think about what you're doing. focus very, very hard on how you're attacking and defending, and keep a very close eye on what she's doing.
>>
No. 926439 ID: 81586f

Yeah she's trying to fuck with us. What she's looking at (Since she IS probably looking at our memories) is none of her business, so why should she care at this moment other than to mess with us?

Sock her in the mouth, because frankly she shouldn't be standing around talking about business that isn't hers in a fight, she should be swinging punches and maybe talking some trasn. She isn't taking us seriously enough if she feels safe opening up with that. Let's make her take us seriously.
>>
No. 926440 ID: cfe8e9

>>926435
POP YOUR EARDRUMS IT'S FOR THE GREATER GOOD
>>
No. 926442 ID: 6ce5eb

OH SHIT i am, unfortunately, definitely with the eardrum mutilation. even if she isn’t unnaturally imposing panic onto ricardo, it’s obviously getting under his skin either way (good boy guilt?), and it’ll hurt like a bitch, but if we can shift our nails and pierce them, it might. be good??
>>
No. 926443 ID: c8452a

>>926435
Fuck, that's awful, I hate that image in my head. Also great idea, you're probably right, and he should definitely do this.

Just try calming down first and if it doesn't work, pop the ear drums.
>>
No. 926444 ID: 2b310f

INTERESTING

I love her, she's gonna smash us.

My guess is that she can tell things from when we were human. Pascal mentioned that his hypnotism doesn't work on vampires (he specifically says it only works on humans) and I would think there are similar restrictions on other psychic affinities.

But we can absolutely use the fact that she's only talking about Ricardo's past to our advantage: shit has changed, we're a vampire now. We've had some really good sex and everything!

Talk to her about more of your past. Talk about the failed relationships and bad sex. Own your past. It's the past and who gives a fuck. You've got a whole lot of future to go yet.

As you talk, pretend not to notice you're backed up against the wall, then when she goes for you: smoke, just for a second to get behind her, then come back with cougar claws.

Also maybe tell her you know someone she might like— he's into horoscopes, too.
>>
No. 926445 ID: 14e641

Stay the fuck away from her! Don't let her get close. She's reading you. If Pascal can hypnotize and see the future its obviously a thing she can grab memories. She dosent actually know your mom.
Worst case scenario you smoke shift to get away from her, but not for long and not a lot. Your claws are your best weapons but it seems like she's a mind game fighter so you have to keep it together and you might actually have a chance, but its going to be hard.
>>
No. 926446 ID: 2e6ab6

HOKAY. So she's psychic or specialist. Playing the odds says she's Psychic, so here's my personal take. 1. She's probably skimming subconscious or long-term memories here, so a mental screen will likely only be so effective. To play it safe, minimize eye contact and try to keep your thoughts relatively simple. Don't give her enough to read your strategy. As for actual actions, I'd say rush her immediately. If she moves to block or retaliate, turn into mist, breeze past her, re-solidify, and strike from behind. Go for the spine. When it's hard to kill an opponent, disabling them is the next best option. Either go for the lower spine to take out mobility, or go for the base of the skull to take out all movement, attack, and defense. If she doesn't block or retaliate, go for the throat to shut her up, or just try to punch a hole through her skull and end the fight there. Either way, moving fast and not letting her psyche you out is the best strategy I can see. Fight on your instincts, but don't be dumb.
>>
No. 926448 ID: 6f764d

Alright, Ricardo, you're in a duel and she's using her powers to psyche you out. Stop listening to her. First earworm that comes to mind, start whistling or humming it. Then you get to fighting. Don't plan out your moves; she'll just read them right off you. Just move completely on instinct.
>>
No. 926449 ID: 3e7944

Oh boy this is so exciting, i love her so much. Im honestly so intimidated by this.

I feel like charging her, try to stop her from talking might be the best option? but idk if she will see that coming either from like premonition or just like knowing how to get a rise out of us? but i cant really think of anything else right now.

Also i miss our mom now :(
>>
No. 926451 ID: b1b4f3

>>926427
Go aggro. Immediately. She's a psychic affinity, she's reading your mind and picking at your strongest memories, to distract you.
You might not be able to stop remembering things but you need to learn to fight through distraction anyway.

Ricardo deafening himself is a good idea but I'm not sure he can just shove his fingers in there. Earholes are small, he'd need a pencil or something. If he claps his hands against his ears really hard he might be able to get them ringing though? Or if the pressure wave is strong enough that might burst his eardrums just like that.
...what about claws, by shifting his hands? Would those be long and thin enough?
>>
No. 926452 ID: c8452a

>>926451
Yeah, he can definitely shift his fingers for that.
>>
No. 926453 ID: ce9ee8

>>926446
yes to all of this! smokescreening her and going for her spine is a good plan. also you rupturing your eardrums would be metal as fuck and i don't think anyone would expect you to do that. it seems like mutilating yourself to win a fight is a bathory thing (see: minmin losing his shit when pascal lopped his arm off) but DO IT cuz it will be cool as hell. or at the very least it will be surprising. avoid eye contact to be safe but don't actually look away from rack, aim higher or lower than her eyes, like her hair or her chin.
>>
No. 926454 ID: 094652

Think "Naughty Schizophrenia" - keep your thoughts hidden by all that porno and switch your strategy every 5 seconds!
>>
No. 926455 ID: aedfd9

Start thinking lots of misinformation! Picture yourself living in the wrong kind of house, wrong kind of pet, wrong kind of second parental history... see if you can trip her up!

For physical fighting, turning into mist might help? It'd help you hide your fear, at least, and maybe you could try to suffocate her or sthg?

Also.... maybe at some point, Ricardo should call his mom. I bet she's worried about him. She seems nice.
>>
No. 926456 ID: aedfd9

Oh shit, I definitely second everyone who's saying eardrum mutilation. Fursona shift your cat paws and scratch it up in there, Kel will love it (and Pascal will be impressed too)
>>
No. 926458 ID: 10c408

I knew we should have fought Sirloin. At best, this stunt means that Rack is testing our mettle with good intentions and terrible consequence.

That said she's probably going to attack you at some point. See if thinking about grabbing Rack and throwing her at the nearest wall causes any kind of reaction while you start to close the gap.

and for god's sake TUNE HER OUT.
>>
No. 926459 ID: 4328b4

I think that the eardrum rupturing, while it might work, is a really bad idea. We told Pascal off for the stunt with his arm in the duel with minmin and bunji, I don't want to pull the same shit here. Not while we have other options, at least. And the worst that can happen here is we eat shit and lose and learn that okay maybe in the face of this stuff we do take the extreme option at the first opportunity.

Idk, the eardrum thing just seems too extreme for this particular fight.
>>
No. 926463 ID: 489abb

yeah i definitely agree with the 'we JUST told pascal off for doing this shit we probably shouldn't IMMEDIATELY do the same thing the first time we get into a fight' also i think it's a bad idea to pop your own eardrums bc i suspect you'll NEED TO HEAR especially if she's fast and might misdirect you/psych you out/outrun you. I don't actually remember how psychic things work but would it be possible to start thinking of naked pascal. also despite how unnerving this is i honestly doubt she's going to go directly for ricardo's mom, which is probably the fear she's banking on. unless this is part of a lengthy 'this is how kel finds out about ricardo's mom and marries her' plot but like i don't think that's how she's trying to psych him out.
...anyway my point is i don't think self-mutilation is going to impress pascal. back up, yeah, i don't know if she's going to hit us but i HIGHLY suspect there's an eye component to it; what she may do is the whole. grab by the chin + make ricardo look into her eyes and when she does THAT i think we're dead. (ALSO UH. DON'T TAKE YOUR EYES ENTIRELY OFF HER BUT MAKE SURE WE'RE NOT /RIGHT UP AGAINST THE WALL ALREADY/ SO WHEN WE TRY TO BACK UP WE RUN INTO IT WITHOUT EXPECTING)
>>
No. 926468 ID: fde9cb

>>926435
damn, spoken like a true heir of House Bathory. but remember!! ears are also used for balance! assuming vampire bodies still work like that, we rupture our eardrums and we'll just fall over. everybody will laugh at us. keep this as a last resort if there's no other way to get Rack out of our head.

instead focus as hard as you can on this moment:
>>900632
(can i do that? link posts from other threads? i ope so) just after you killed Jacket Guy. focus on Pascal's fingers in your hair. on how grounding they were, how calming. Push Rack and your mother out.

soon as you feel you can, go on the offensive, full speed. don't give her time to play her mind games
>>
No. 926469 ID: fde9cb

>>926468
oh also ruptured ear drums take 2-3 months to heal, which in vampire healing terms is still probably an decently long time. it might impede performance in this fight but it would also be a great led-in to learning VSL
>>
No. 926477 ID: 779fa0

she probably expects some kind of rush attack honestly - isnt "make your opponent angry by getting personal to make them do some dumb shit" trick number one? and who knows how helpful thinking of something else will be, i doubt she read what was going on in ricardos head at the current time, his ma probably wouldnt be floating around in his head at the start of a spar, so it might just be distracting, or he could pop a boner thinking about pascal at a really inopportune time.. ( OR - it would work like that one tumblr post where the guy was really good at wrestling because hed watch hardcore porn before a match without any release, however, maybe dont do that). anyway, don't pop your eardrums. balance is important, and the pain might be distracting too. it's an impulsive overreaction, especially regarding that you JUST told pascal that that shit is no good. try to calm yourself in an undistracting way, counting with your breathing, maybe. expect a surprise attack. keep on your toes and be on the defense
>>
No. 926478 ID: 744ec0

truly we are a fitting heir to the house of bathory, good god

anyway, idk about the eardrum thing (but then again, why the fuck not?) but what you gotta do is channel in your spite. spite is an energy - spite will keep you alive. she thinks she can psyche us out? she thinks it will demoralize us, makes us weak? motherfucker, we walked into pascal's lair demanding he kill us in combat, thats the kind of guy we are! we dont give up. we dont take the easy way out. we have our motherfucking SPITE to rely on when we have NOTHING ELSE - so fight her, fuckhead!
>>
No. 926482 ID: 23dc9d

I don't have much more to add but a good alternative to popping the ears is just shifting them away. I mean that will also probably take up less blood and energy to do too if we are going down that route.
>>
No. 926483 ID: 23dc9d

>>926482

ACTUALLY HOLD ON I TAKE THIS ONE BACK I forgot vampires can technically communicate by a form of telepathy if absolutely necessary, so doing anything to our eardrums will probalby not be a great idea. We should think of a different route.
>>
No. 926488 ID: 2791fd

we're fucked. i have no suggestions
>>
No. 926490 ID: 0f15ab

Yall lets not do anything to ricardos ears. He needs those. Just try to calm down, and i think what someone said about avoiding eye contact might be a good idea?
>>
No. 926491 ID: 5447fc

Agreeing that eardrum-popping is probably NOT a good idea, use your finesse and smarts, not self-mutilation--that's clearly an encouraged behavior with Bathories and these folks do notttt seem like they'd be impressed with that. Maybe stuff something else in your ears to dampen her voice but first and foremost, focus on her, sing a song in your head, think of your undead boner, dont let her rattle you!!
>>
No. 926492 ID: 23dc9d

Now I'm going to try to actually suggest something, but I do want to say that she is not exactly accessing our brain or thoughts, but our memories and it seems to be only our memories from before we were a vampire, so thinking about something else won't stop her from accessing these (though they will distract us)

I think the key here is the eye contact. Pascal uses eye contact to work his hypnosis on humans, so it makes sense that eye contact is what is allowing her to access our memories as a human. Cut off eye contact before either attacking or becoming fog to dodge an attack.
>>
No. 926493 ID: c8452a

>>926482
Oh. Right. I'll switch to that idea.
>>
No. 926497 ID: b463f2

yeahhhhhhh, I'm super against the popping own eardrums or otherwise trying to obscure our hearing. sure, it'd be hardcore, but we don't even know if Rack's power *is* auditory, and we just told Pascal off for recklessly hurting himself for a duel, and that was one with some relatively big stakes - this one doesn't have any, other than proving our mettle.

take a deep breath, and ground yourself in the present Ricardo - you're not human anymore, and you're training to protect yourself and Pascal. Remember that while you're a relatively inexperienced vampire, you grew up fighting, and have a lot of knowledge and experience from that that can be pulled for this situation. Try to get in some solid blows, and remember you have your shapeshifting to rely on as well.

Let's impress them with our versatility and resilience!
>>
No. 926498 ID: 6cf958

What's the catchiest, most annoying song you can think of, that gets stuck in your head every time? Think of that. Let it play on a loop in your brain. Then turn your hands into claws and fucking rush her
>>
No. 926503 ID: 9fcd43

I'm voting to save the eardrums until absolutely necessary; try to fuck up her mouth first. Focus on grounding memories like people have been saying, keep your cool.

Also call your mom once this is over jfc
>>
No. 926519 ID: 02e2dc

pop your eardrums with... your vampire claws? and go for the kill

in all seriousness though we don't know if rack's power is actually auditory or if she's telepathic so let's forego doing that for now and just... try and stay calm? she clearly knows how to psych people out. maybe you can get at her while she's caught up in rattling off facts about your mom
>>
No. 926520 ID: bb78f2

Focus Ricardo. That information doesn't matter. Just come back to the real world and watch her, she could try decapitating you right now.

Pretend you're being affected and keep watching her moves. She isn't reading your mind, maybe she's reading your past mind and what/who it's attached to. Psychic affinities aren't supposed to affect vamps much so there's other explanations for her past access.
>>
No. 926529 ID: b1b4f3

>>926497
Popping your own eardrums is a lot less extreme than lopping off your own arm.
Also this is training for a life or death situation, not a duel where death (probably) isn't on the line. These two differences would likely have Ricardo singing a different tune if Pascal did it in this situation.
>>
No. 926532 ID: 4250a6

since it seems to only be human memories like others said, anything she can find out is gonna be outdated at best. knowing this stuff about you or knowing about your mom doesn’t actually give her any advantage in a fight as long as you don’t let it psyche you out. think of it like, so what she can read your 5 years out of date brain facebook page and can list some facts about you and your mom. surprising to hear, but not actually relevant to a Fight, so try and chill and not care what she knows. don’t let it surprise you again going forward if she knows something, now that she’s revealed this trick. remind yourself it doesn’t really matter for the fight if she knows all the Ricardo Life Trivia- aside from using your general temperment to predict your fighting style, but anyone with good intuition could gather that same info just by interacting with you.

definitely avoid eye contact to try and break the connection, though. a great way to avoid eye contact thoroughly might be to to go for Her eyes with claws and see if that works. wreck one of her senses rather than your own.

maybe try acting like you’re freezing up in shock or don’t understand what she’s doing, while actually calming down and letting her get closer, then try catch her off guard and get the eyes?
>>
No. 926533 ID: c8452a

>>926529
Also, the suggestion that he could instead shapeshift his ears away makes a lot of sense.
>>
No. 926544 ID: 8ca664

Popping your eardrums would be metal as fuck but probably not a great idea since we don't know how rack's power works yet. I'm seconding avoiding eye contact and thinking misinformation. She's probably expecting us to fly at her so maybe keep your distance but be ready to attack.
>>
No. 926545 ID: ded7a1

GOD THIS IS SO COOL SHES SO COOL???? RACK
anyway i think the whole rupturing ur eardrums idea, while it'd be cool and exciting, is probably not a good first reaction esp since she could probably still get to us thru vampire telepathy. ricardo should just try to ground himself, calm down and focus on what she's immediately doing and don't let her get too close yet
>>
No. 926568 ID: 8eaaff

>>926529
Is it really less extreme though??

"This vampire I don't know the capabilities of seems to be good at talking so I'mma just get rid of one of my senses so I might be immune."

Sounds pretty dang extreme to me, js.

And losing the previous duel would have meant cradle breathing down our necks immediately losing would have been really bad. Still not worth self-mutilation over.

Here we have a chance to learn what we need to jump to extremes for and what we don't. This could be one of those things! But trying shit out in a situation where the only real consequence is embarrassing ourselves so hard Pascal no longer wants to fuck is the smart thing to do.

Anyway, reiterating my earlier non-self-mutilation plan: talk back, take away her power by owning your shit, then when she makes a move go to smoke form, solidify behind her immediately and take a swing with cougar claws.
>>
No. 926599 ID: 270774
File 155315179457.png - (108.34KB , 800x525 , 406.png )
926599

Ricardo doesn’t want to fucking hear it. He doesn’t want to listen to this shit anymore. He grits his teeth, raising his hands up to ear level, and shifts long, wicked claws on each forefinger —

“Ricardo!”
>>
No. 926600 ID: 270774
File 155315181098.png - (114.05KB , 800x525 , 407.png )
926600

He looks up, startled, to find Pascal leaning over the railing. He looks livid.

“Shut up,” says Ricardo. It comes out a little limp.

“Do not do that!” Pascal shouts. “What is this? I can not remove my arm, but you can do as you like? Hm?!”

“I — she — I’m stressed out,” says Ricardo. “She’s stressing me out. And I’m a grown man. I can claw out my eardrums if I want to.”

“He’s a Bathory after all,” Kel muses. “I guess it’s just in the blood.”

“You are such a stupid — Ricardo, look out!”

Ricardo’s attention snaps back to Rack just in time — her hand hits the wall hard enough to splinter the paneling, and Ricardo ducks under her arm to get back to the open space of the ballroom floor, rattled by the close call.
>>
No. 926601 ID: 270774
File 155315183005.png - (158.95KB , 800x525 , 408.png )
926601

He can hear Kel berating Pascal as he gets his bearings again, insisting on no further interference, and he tries to steady his breathing and focus. His thoughts are scattered, but he’s doing his best to put them back in order.

Pascal said psychic abilities couldn’t be used on other vampires, but it seems obvious that she’s accessing his memories somehow. Only ones from when he was alive, though — maybe that’s the loophole?

At the end of the day, the only way to figure out how her power works is to try and chip away at it. Ricardo takes a quick breath, one short inhale, and charges.

He tries thinking about a different attack, a kind of mental feint, but she doesn’t react; he thinks to himself, preemptively, that if something goes wrong, he has to be ready to shift into smoke and get behind her —
>>
No. 926602 ID: 270774
Audio - (3.96MB - 192 kbps - 44.1 kHz ) Length: 2:53
926602

lamborghini meltdown - DEMON QUEEN
>>
No. 926603 ID: 270774
File 155315186665.png - (84.01KB , 800x525 , 409.png )
926603

Something
>>
No. 926604 ID: 270774
File 155315187727.png - (87.43KB , 800x525 , 410.png )
926604

goes wrong.
>>
No. 926605 ID: 270774
File 155315189475.png - (107.04KB , 800x525 , 411.png )
926605

“Ricardo, what are you doing?!”
>>
No. 926606 ID: 270774
File 155315190570.png - (141.42KB , 800x525 , 412.png )
926606

Ricardo stops cold, flinching back in horror —
>>
No. 926607 ID: 270774
File 155315192305.png - (91.44KB , 800x525 , 413.png )
926607

And in that second of hesitation his mother knees him in the stomach. The impact itself seems to happen in slow motion, and then time speeds up again as he hits the floor and tumbles. He hears whooping and laughter from the balcony, and a wavering gasp that he thinks must be Pascal, and the buzzing of the lights overhead, and then he hears his mother’s voice.
>>
No. 926608 ID: 270774
File 155315194123.png - (87.16KB , 800x525 , 414.png )
926608

“Did you see his face?” his mother yells. Ricardo is struggling back to his feet, wincing as his ribs slowly knit back together. He hasn’t fed in days. “He’s a mama’s boy! I knew it! He’s totally a mama’s boy!”

Ricardo squints across the ballroom at where his mother is standing. This is solid. It’s not an illusion. She stands the way his mother always does, and even though the way she was just talking was all wrong, that’s her voice. His chest hurts and it’s more than the injury. It’s been five years since he’s heard her voice.

“Aw, hey, Ribeye.” His mother cocks her head to the side, grinning. “What’s up? Yeah, it turns out I’m a shifter.”

“You —” Ricardo finally manages to straighten up again. He’s trying to stay calm, trying to ground himself — he has a terrible urge to look at her face, and a terrible understanding that if he does, he’ll break down. “You can’t be. You — how did you know all —”

“All that dumb shit about you and your mom, blah blah. What, you thought I was a specialist or something? Okay, I’ll admit I definitely angle for that.” She’s getting closer. Ricardo is backing up again. He keeps his eyes down, but — god, that’s even his mother’s fucking belt buckle — “You guys took half a week to get here,” says his mother, “but L.A. is an hour flight from here.”

Ricardo staggers. His mother jumps on the opportunity, lunging forward to strike at him with her right hand, and he just barely manages to stumble out of the way. “What did you do.” His voice is a hollow scrape. “If you fucking touched her —”

“Oh, come on. I’m one of the good guys, remember? We just talked.” Those are his mother’s good leather shoes, clicking against the polished wood. “Tracking her down was super depressing, though. There was like, barely any news coverage of your disappearance, you know.”

This is not how his mother talks. This is not how his mother moves. This is not how his mother smiles. But it’s how she sounds, and how she looks, and Ricardo is struggling to hold himself together. “The cops totally brushed her off, and she ended up the only one looking for you, really,” she continues. “I told her I knew you from work. Did you know that’s all you really have to say? ‘From work,’ and you don’t have to elaborate. People never ask for more. And we got coffee, and I acted all upset, you know, since we were such good friends and everything.”
>>
No. 926609 ID: 270774
File 155315195905.png - (69.32KB , 800x525 , 415.png )
926609

Looking for you. Ricardo doesn’t even know what he’s doing anymore, besides blindly walking away from his mother’s leisurely steps forward. Your disappearance. He’s watching her legs, never letting his eyes rise higher than that, because he doesn’t know what will happen if he accidentally looks her in the eye.

“She’s one tough broad,” says his mother, conversationally. “You know that? The whole time, kept comforting me, like I wasn’t some rando, and her the one who had actually lost a son. Kept telling me she was sure you were still alive, and that you’d come home safe. She had all these examples ready of people who like, went missing for ten years and then showed up again safe and sound, memorized.”

Ricardo can’t take much more of this.

“But I could see it in her eyes,” his mother says. “The whole time. She knows you’re dead.”
>>
No. 926610 ID: 270774
File 155315197770.png - (70.56KB , 800x525 , 416.png )
926610

That’s the breaking point.

He can’t listen to any more of this. His heart is already straining under the weight, an overburdened beam. He launches forward, at the doppelgänger, at the grinning face of his not-mother —

But at the last second the grin collapses into shock and fear, and his mother gasps and flinches, and Ricardo stops his own momentum so violently that when his mother’s fist connects with his ribs he’s already half-twisted in the direction the blow sends him.

He can’t do it. He can’t.

Just thinking “it’s not really her” isn’t enough. He knows that, but it doesn’t matter when it comes time to actually hurt her. His body rebels against it on a level that feels molecular.

“Wow, for real?” his mother calls. Ricardo is panting against the polished floor. There’s distant laughter again, somewhere way above his head and out of his eyeline. “You practically threw yourself across the room for me. You seriously can’t even think about hitting your mommy, huh?”
>>
No. 926613 ID: 70df1e

really mad at ribeye lads i think its time to start shifting. first things first we NEED to seperate ribeye from ricardo's mom in some way, physically or mentally.

we can't hit her because she looks and sounds like our mom. we can't stop that without putting ourselves at a serious disadvantage - so lets shift into something where we wouldn't recognize her by sound or sight.

I know we can shift into a puma, which I think would do the trick? Her face is way up high, and we absolutely see/hear things different as a cat. do the whole shift and go for the legs. do NOT look at her face. aim for everwhere but the face - she is NOT your mom.
>>
No. 926614 ID: 9fcd43

Ricardo don't listen to her there's nothing wrong with being a good boy who loves his mama

(I will say again though FUCKING CALL YOUR MOTHER FOR GOD'S SAKE)
>>
No. 926615 ID: c1eaac

>>926613

seconding puma shift so we won't have to look her in the eye! also it might be easier to let Big Cat Instincts take over for us if we're, you know, a big cat.

anyway after this is over, call your fucking mom ricardo
>>
No. 926616 ID: 4328b4

Focus on how she's getting it wrong, focus on how your mother would never hurt you (apart from maybe a cuff around the ear), and sweep her feet out from under her. Don't aim to hurt her, aim to pin her, trap her. That's not a tactic which will work long or well, but something's better than nothing.
>>
No. 926617 ID: 7e9c89

blinding yrself like what you were gonna do w ur eardrums is SSSSUPER not an option even if pascal hadn't scolded you, uh. uh. what the fukc. what the fukc. if you can't hit her, shift into smoke the next time she comes near you -- she's gotta have a time limit on her shifting too, right?? if you can last it out we can get in at least one hit? maybe?
>>
No. 926618 ID: 81586f

Look Ricardo...you gotta do it. You gotta hit your mom. This is a vampire going easy on you or at least not trying to kill you--imagine if this person was actually trying to kill you and doing this. It's tough but--you gotta do it. You gotta hit your mom. Telling yourself she's not real may or may not help, but if Pascal won't let you mutilate your own ears, you need to power through this. I don't like saying it, but you gotta be a bad boy. Because you're going to have to be a bad boy in the future for both yours and Pascal's sake.

Be a bad boy for Pascal. If Pascal didn't believe in you, he'd probably be okay with you doing it. He wouldn't have probably liked it, but if it you had to, you had to. But Pascal thinks differently about you. He knows you can do this, because he believes in you!
>>
No. 926619 ID: 8ca664

we gotta knock her off her feet and shift into smoke, a puma, something
>>
No. 926620 ID: c1eaac

>>926615

wait a second, actually...you got a phone on you ricardo? call your mom right now. in the middle of the fight. hearing her actually speak words to you might help the cognitive dissonance
>>
No. 926621 ID: 2e6ab6

This is gonna sound harsh as shit, but I don't think we can gimmick our way out of this one. You need to compartmentalize right now, because who fucking knows how long Kel is going to let this go on for. Put the emotions away, and deal with the situation. This is a fight. Fight to kill or disable. Deal with the GBG later. That is not your mother, and even if it was, it doesn't matter. It's a threat. Threats have to be eliminated or nullified. You cannot afford to have existential crises in the middle of combat. Or you'll die. This is the world you get to live in now. And you have to deal with that later, too. Breathe. Focus. Move on. No hesitation. No mercy. Because you can't afford either right now. You'll have plenty of time to break down in the hotel room. But not. Here.
>>
No. 926626 ID: 9f39fb

Okay, listen. I know we're not allowed to pop our eardrums, but can we just, shift our whole ear away for a bit. Would that work?
>>
No. 926629 ID: da040a

Yeah this is where you access your murderous rage. And fight with your eyes closed, maybe, or BIG CAT BIG CAT BIG CAT
>>
No. 926631 ID: d6551e

now is the perfect time to become ricardo’s fursona
>>
No. 926632 ID: b1b4f3

Ricardo, you know how shifting works. She can't keep it up forever. Also, pay attention, she's only countering your attacks. Stop trying to hit your mother, instead you should go on the defensive. Wait for her to run out of shift-juice, then you can attack.

The road to victory is not to overcome your emotions, you tried that and you can't do it. The road to victory is to render your emotions meaningless. Don't get yourself into a situation where they matter.
>>
No. 926634 ID: 9f39fb

>>926632
Oh I second this, yeah! Full offensive isn't always the best strategy.
>>
No. 926635 ID: 9fcd43

I'm not sure being a puma would actually help, cool as it would be - maybe just close your eyes and try to navigate by sound? You could do a partial shift if you think that would help make your senses sharper.
>>
No. 926636 ID: cfe8e9

take your shirt off, throw it around her head so you can't see her face and she can't see you, and get to kicking her ass. it's clear now the problem is outside of you. plus, getting a shirt thrown at her will probably distract rack or at least throw her off a little
>>
No. 926638 ID: fde9cb

what if we shifted into Kel? see if we can turn it around on her with the whole 'most beloved General' devotion they have. it won't hit her nearly as hard as it does us, but it might throw her for a loop enough to try something. best case scenario it surprises her enough that she unshifts, but even if it doesn't it could buy us long enough to steel our resolve or figure something else out.
>>
No. 926640 ID: c8452a

>>926632
Yeah, start baiting her out and countering her.

Hmph, Kel talks about being a Bathory, but Rack's the one toying with Ricardo. I'm really starting to want to see what a Bathory can do to their opponent in return.
>>
No. 926642 ID: 10c408

>>926640
Probably intentionally take normally fatal hits black knight style and then cripple their opponent due to being insanely hard to kill.
>>
No. 926643 ID: c8452a

>>926642
I was mostly referring to their tendency to torture opponents in ways that don't officially end matches.
>>
No. 926644 ID: af4811

Okay. Okay.

She's trained so her shifts probably last longer. How long can you hold the shape of a different person? It's not like smoke so it'll probably be for a bit.

Go on the defensive, and shift into each of the other Gallowglass vamps, and see if any of them throw her off. We're learning more about each other, so let's see who she doesn't want to hit as much.

If that doesn't work: just go for the legs or arms or something, I support the face covering tactics.
>>
No. 926646 ID: 7bee8c

>>926632
i agree, we need to stall until she has to shift out, although its true that it will likely be a while since she's been training for much longer
try to think of and ask about something that only you and your mom would know. the fact that rack wont be able to answer correctly might be enough to overcome some of the emotional barrier
>>
No. 926652 ID: aedfd9

Dude you gotta forfeit, there is no fucking way we can win this. There's literally no way. We can't hit our mom. (And like... if the purpose of this fight is to make us tougher and more jaded... do we wanna be a jaded person who hits our mom? No!)

And we gotta call her later. Bring her to Vegas! She'll be safe at the hotel!
>>
No. 926661 ID: 2e6ab6

I don't think shifting into Kel or any of her wards is going to help. Do you think that haven't fought each other? Haven't beat the shit out of each other? Hell, given the way Kel talks, Lamb's probably *killed* a fellow ward before. The way I see it, there are three choices.1: Convince yourself that this really isn't your mom, then fight as usual. 2: Compartmentalize and deal with the emotional side of things later. Or 3:... Forfeit. Because if you can't get over this hump? You're never going to win this fight. Or any fight where the opponent can rattle you.


If it helps with path one at all, you know your mom would never do this kind of shit, right? This is just a fucked up trick to try and rattle you. Are you gonna let someone fucked up enough to play this dirty win?
>>
No. 926667 ID: 23dc9d

>>926646

I agree with this suggestion! See if asking a question about something only you or your mother knows can help you get over this block.
>>
No. 926670 ID: 465a14

Yes, you shouldn't be ashamed of having sentimental attachments. It is, however, incredibly stupid to allow yourself to have a weak point like this that anyone can easily know. It took a day for someone who isn't even your enemy to exploit one of your biggest weaknesses. Take care of this now or it WILL come back to bite you in the ass.

Try to kill her. You probably won't succeed but the important part is making the actual effort to kill Rack despite her shifting.
>>
No. 926674 ID: 67bd02

ricardo if you're truly a mama's boy (and you are) you have a deep well of untapped rage inside you specifically reserved for people spitting on the image of your mom. hell rack isn't just doing that, she actually manipulated your mom, in person. and then stalked her to her house and watched her drink? like what the fuck?
>>
No. 926677 ID: 10c408

That's not your mom ricardo. That's just a punk ass fat bitch wearing her face. Close your eyes and pretend it's someone else instead, someone you REALLY hated or turn into a large cat and run off of instinct.
>>
No. 926681 ID: 2791fd

what i want to know is how this helps us improve as a fighter
>>
No. 926682 ID: 97d823

loving and caring about your mother isnt a weakness. its very human, but ur a vampire now so take that goodboy guilt & put it in ur pocket, its go time lets dip into that mama's boy rage & love & get SERIOUS. take inventory of what u know! shifts dont last forever, & they wear u out. so stall, and dodge, and try your damndest not to let her get to you. i dont think that an offensive, hasty strategy is the way to go here. also keep in mind that she *cant* know *everything.* im sure she was thorough, YOU know she was thorough, but she isnt your mom & she really cant know everything. theres physically no way. if you ask about something that only your mom would know that might be helpful.
(my first reaction is to say just LEAVE bc you did not sign up for psychological torment but we're gonna keep that in our back pocket & just try to stall things out for now)
>>
No. 926683 ID: 10c408

>>926681
It doesn't. At least Miss “I’m gonna twist your fucking head off like a milk cap, bitch,” was upfront about how psycho she is, rack is insidious and evidently gets her kicks from psychologically manipulating new trainees.

(We should have fought Sirloin but noooo. Had to engage the chubby vampire who acted friendly.)
>>
No. 926687 ID: c8452a

>>926681
It simulates what an actual enemy might do to Ricardo. Try to get in his head, threaten his mom, etc. There are definitely going to be vampires that try something like this in the future.
>>
No. 926688 ID: 10c408

You have a point, but this is still bullshit on Rack's part.
>>
No. 926689 ID: 97d823

>>926687
yea this is so true. i dont necessarily think this is BAD for ricardo, esp since social stuff is. well! not his strong suit! hes *trying* but still. being able to stand up to manipulation & low blows like this is GOOD. the people we're gonna be facing are ruthless & cruel & theres no such thing as 'below the belt' to them, so its time to toughen up & become the honorary gallowglass we're meant to be!
>>
No. 926718 ID: 2791fd

>>926689
>>926687
sensibly, i know you're both right, but the toddler that controls 90% of my brain is just overwhelmingly upset at this series of events
>>
No. 926725 ID: be70d8

how dare she abuse the power of ricardos good boy guilt its at max levels right now (ricardo call ur mom)
srsly tho... i'd recommend going full cougar! Maybe the Animal Instincts will help him fight against gbg (good boy guilt)
>>
No. 926735 ID: c1cb95

yeah we definitely need to shift, change our perception so we don't recognize her anymore. anything besides human would do the trick but cougar would be easiest, right? full or partial, whichever we can hold for longest, and let's try to get some damage done
>>
No. 926751 ID: 82e3f0

i think shifting could definitely help from a perspective point of view but as we saw w minmin’s snake it doesnt actually alter your mindset so the whole guilt thing wouldnt abate. definitely shoot for limbs rather than full frontal, avoid looking at her face. also do latch onto the fact that she dragged your mom into this whole shitshow which is fucked up and should definitely make you mad. focus on the fact that she’s bastardizing your mom’s image and also potentially putting her in danger rather than the fact that she looks like her!
>>
No. 926781 ID: bb78f2

>>926610
She's a good mom. One of the best.
Did you have one of those, Rack?
If you can't hit the image of your Mom, there's only one choice. Blind yourself by shifting your face into a blind bat and locate her through echo location or her smell.

Or do the Rocky method and just keep getting hit or dodge, and keep getting up when you get knocked down. She can't hold that form for long.
>>
No. 926782 ID: 2e6ab6

I seriously don't think that shifting is going to help much here. At least, not past any actual combat advantage. Reducing your senses is just going to put you at *more* of a disadvantage. This is a mental thing. Find a way to get around the fact that she looks like your mom. However you need to. Or don't, and deal with it later.
>>
No. 926784 ID: eb66b1

I think you're right- the biggest hurdle in this fight is Mom Looks. Shifting will help us kick ass once we get over GBG, but we gotta be okay to fight first. Focus in on mama's boy rage. Like, how dare she take the face of our mom? That's our MOM ffs. We want to protect her and in this case protecting her might mean punting rack
(ilu rack im so sorry but mamas boy energy is more powerful)
>>
No. 926790 ID: 2e6ab6

>>926784
I am *all* for tapping into that bottomless well of Mama's Boy rage if that's what gets us through this. How fucking *dare* she use our mom like that? How **dare** she use our moms image like this!? My only caveat is that we can't lose ourselves to the rage. Let it fuel is. Let it drive us. But don't let it own us. We own the rage. And we're gonna use it to take Rack the fuck down.
>>
No. 926819 ID: 143fb2

leave it to a bunch of girls named after meats to make some real nasty humble pie :U

baiting or insulting rack requires going toe to toe with her in verbal manipulation while still avoiding her attacks - so playing rack's game requires learning it as we go, which is another disadvantage that we can't spend time maneuvering with right now. of course we acknowledge that we have a glaring weakness (that out of everyone present, ricardo is the least trained and the most human), so we play to his strengths - what he knows about shifting limits, as well as the firm knowledge that ricardo's real mother is alive, physically unhurt, and loves her son.

puma sounds like the better bet, if we can hold that longer than smoke. it might give us a little help in that a big cat's facial expressions will be harder to read than ricardo's actual person face (can't do much for hesitation, though, so go for the legs and respond to the opponent's motions, not the face those motions are wearing).
>>
No. 926861 ID: c84251

i just want to say im against the suggestion to shift to kel - even if ricardo could, kel has probably fought them before because she trains them!
>>
No. 926901 ID: b463f2

a. cougar tiiiiime
b. yes, channel the anger of her using your mom against you - and of her getting to see your mom when *you* couldn't see your mom!
c. definitely, definitely figure out how to contact your mom, but also...... be Careful about how you do it. she's going to want to see you, and that's probably not a good idea, and she's going to want to know what's up, and....... it's not necessarily bad to let her know you're a vampire, but also it could go really bad really quick, if she tells others, or trys to get involved in the vampire world.
>>
No. 926957 ID: c8452a

>>926784
Except, she does also SOUND like his mom, too. If Ricardo doesn't do something about that, too, I would think even avoiding looking at her wouldn't work.
>>
No. 927338 ID: 270774
Audio wrongmusic - My Gums Bleed For This Type Of Shit - (6.14MB - 287 kbps - 44.1 kHz ) Length: 2:59
927338

my gums bleed for this type of shit — ladyscraper
>>
No. 927339 ID: 270774
File 155357878076.png - (80.03KB , 800x525 , 417.png )
927339

Ricardo needs to get up.

His mother doesn’t seem interested in kicking him while he’s down — as soon as she saw he was staying on the floor, at least for the moment, she turned around to crane her neck back and chat with the other wards on the balcony. But that’s almost worse, isn’t it — that he’s so little of a threat that she can turn her back on him.

He finally plants both hands on the wood and heaves himself up to his knees. He hears her turn around as soon as he does, and he doesn’t look up to meet whatever amused, appraising look she’s giving him. He’s healing, bit by bit, and by the time he stands back upright he feels more or less like all his bones are where they’re supposed to be.

“You need to do better,” he says. His voice is a low rasp. “If this copycat thing is your entire strategy.”

“Oh, for real?” His mother has one hand on her hip. That’s kind of like her. She’s smirking. That’s not. “What, you have critique?”

“I’m having a hard time suspending my disbelief.” Ricardo drags the back of his hand across his mouth and it comes away with a little smear of blood. “Because my mother’s never hit me. Not once. Not a single time, not in my entire life.”
>>
No. 927340 ID: 270774
File 155357879795.png - (163.44KB , 800x525 , 418.png )
927340

“And you don’t deserve to wear her face.”
>>
No. 927341 ID: 270774
File 155357881484.png - (105.51KB , 800x525 , 419.png )
927341

His mother braces for him and Ricardo charges forward. At the last second, he skids slightly to the side, ripping his shirt off in one fluid movement, sending buttons ricocheting around the room —
>>
No. 927342 ID: 270774
File 155357884242.png - (117.16KB , 800x525 , 420.png )
927342

And then kicks off the floor again for momentum, a fistful of shirt in each hand, and he catches his mother’s face in it. He drags her backwards with it, twisting the fabric to hold, and when he flips her over his back, her face hits the floor first with a sickening crunch.

There’s a rousing cheer from the balcony that Ricardo barely registers. He stumbles backwards when the crumpled form on the ground shows sign of movement, retreating again to a defensive distance.
>>
No. 927343 ID: 270774
File 155357886262.png - (106.37KB , 800x525 , 421.png )
927343

Rack stands up.
>>
No. 927344 ID: 270774
File 155357889559.png - (148.41KB , 800x525 , 422.png )
927344

“Oh,” says his mother's voice. “Oh, man.”

Ricardo can hear, faintly, the clicking and scraping of her facial bones rearranging beneath bruised skin, all of it muffled by fabric.

“I’m gonna fucking kill you.”
>>
No. 927345 ID: 270774
File 155357891156.png - (128.88KB , 800x525 , 423.png )
927345

Ricardo doesn’t know how long Rack can stay in this shift. He doesn’t know how to shift into other people, and he doesn’t know how to shift all the way into a cougar form. He doesn’t know how to shift into anything he hasn’t achieved through practice, actually, and he doesn’t know if large spontaneous shifts are even possible.

He knows that none of that matters, and that he has to figure something out anyway.

Rack lunges — still with his mother’s limbs, still with her body, but with her face shrouded in bloody fabric it’s easier to think of her as something else. When she’s within striking distance, Ricardo lets himself collapse into pure instinct —

He explodes into a cloud of smoke, and she whiffs right through him.
>>
No. 927346 ID: 270774
File 155357892774.png - (101.39KB , 800x525 , 424.png )
927346

And then, from the other side, Ricardo rematerializes and slams his foot into the small of her back, as hard as he can. She launches, hits the ground hard, face-first again, and leaves a smear across the polished wood until she finally comes to rest. Her upper body is twitching and her lower body is not. Ricardo watches, feeling disjointed, shocked at what he just achieved.
>>
No. 927347 ID: 270774
File 155357894335.png - (144.62KB , 800x525 , 425.png )
927347

The formerly rowdy balcony is silent. Kel’s voice is the first to cut over the low undercurrent of Rack hissing and cursing as her spine tries desperately to stitch itself back together.

“Did he just go intangible?” She leans over the balcony, then grabs Pascal and shakes him a little. “He can go intangible? How the hell’d he learn that?”

Ricardo doesn’t turn around to watch Pascal as he replies, eyes still fixed on Rack’s shuddering form, but he can hear the airy smugness in his voice. “Oh, this I have had nothing to do with. You know I can barely shift at all.” Pascal clicks his tongue, once, crisply. “This he taught himself.”

“He taught himself,” Kel echoes, sounding equal parts delighted and bewildered. Her hand hits the railing softly. “He taught his damn self how to turn into mist.”

Mignon hums with mild interest. Strip is grinding her teeth.

“Maybe we can make a Gallowglass of him yet, huh, girls?”
>>
No. 927349 ID: 9fcd43

wow i'm a little bit straight for ricardo right now

Don't take your eyes off Rack, she hasn't surrendered yet and we don't know if she can heal fast enough that a broken spine will stop her from getting up.
>>
No. 927350 ID: 2e6ab6

THAT'S THE FUCKIN' SPIRIT! ATTA' BOY!

Now, from here on you've got a balancing act. You can't let her turn the tide again, because I don't think you'll get it back if you lose momentum. I'd recommend staying on the offensive as much as you can without getting reckless. Remember, duels aren't over until there's a loser. And while there aren't any real "rules" here, I doubt getting a good hit it is gonna count as a win. I'm almost certain that this duel isn't over yet, and she's still a much more thoroughly trained fighter than you are. But at the very least you've managed to catch her off-guard and , at least for now, pushed through the mind-games. Now it's just a matter of not letting her take the advantage back.
>>
No. 927351 ID: 4f943d

oh i take it strip's a shifter too. anyway shift your paws to puma and get that weight on her back so she can't get up. let her forfeit in a moment where she's been clearly beaten by something unexpected so she can save some pride.
>>
No. 927352 ID: c1eaac

take a second to catch your breath but don't lose momentum, ricardo! keep rack on the defensive, and don't let her talk anymore.
>>
No. 927354 ID: 10c408

Hell fucking yes, Ricardo! Now don't take your eyes off of rack just yet.

"Honestly, I had five years to mess with while trying to find Pascal. Turning into smoke a cloud of smoke isn't the only form I figured out during that time."

Hopefully this is enough to convince Rack to GIVE UP before she pulls the shirt off and realizes that Ricardo's cathartic beat down has left him drained.

...Or that anyone on the balcony correctly guesses we're half-bluffing and yells encouragement to Rack.

In either case, discretion is the better part of valor. If Rack DOES get up off the floor intent on round 2 before you recover from the drain, just announce "I quit" loudly before you get your shit wrecked.
>>
No. 927355 ID: 14e641

Thats nice. Kel likes him, the girls seem intrested, but Rack is avout to come at ya like a storm. You might want to think about putting those claws to use Ricardo, smoke form is cool but now she knows. You have to be faster.
>>
No. 927356 ID: 70df1e

hit her while shes down ricardo. do NOT let her get back up. like sucks to be brutal here but she did turn into your mom to try to beat the shit out of you so like let loose and do NOT let her get back up. if her spine is trashed you keep it that way until kel calls the match and that is how it is
>>
No. 927357 ID: 23dc9d

I definitely agree with laying on the offensive at this point, but being very careful. Rack using Ricardo's mother's form was a good psychological offensive move for her, but it is definitely not a form she bothered to really get comfortable with compared to her normal body or other possible forms she has learned to shift into. It is also entirely possible she would drop the shift to heal faster, since shifts take up valuable blood that is better off spent on healing in her position, or taking a different form. So just keep in mind she may have other things up her sleeve at this point.
>>
No. 927359 ID: 7e9c89

YOU DID SO GOOD take a minute to breathe!! did we win, or does it go til she specifically SAYS she gives--? don't turn your back on her just in case, but you can relax a lil
>>
No. 927360 ID: c8452a

You haven't won yet. Keep focused and keep light on your feet. The second you can get all your claws out, leap at Rack, jump to the other side of her and dig into that neck with them.
>>
No. 927361 ID: b1b4f3

>>926636
Okay first that was real clever, hats off to you.

>>927347
Say that you hope to make the grade.
Well, Rack can't fight anymore due to the broken spine. The spar is over, right? Ask if it's over. If it's not, well, wait for her to get back up. She didn't kick you while you were down, so you shouldn't either.

If the spar is officially over, then ask Rack if that was normally how she fights or if it was some kind of hazing thing. I'm guessing the disguise form counts as one form-- perhaps shapeshifting forms are all really general. Like if you can turn into a bat you can turn into all sorts of bats, and the same applies for turning into a human. Or maybe Rack specializes in disguise shifting and there some sort of drawback due to that? Like being unable to shift into anything else?
>>
No. 927365 ID: c8452a

>>927361
She didn't attack him while he went down because she didn't see him as a threat. That's no longer the case, and giving her a chance to recover is just contrived honor stuff that we shouldn't fall for.
>>
No. 927366 ID: 4328b4

>>926636
serious props for this idea, dang!


Absolutely don't give her time to recover. She's set the rules for this duel, and that is that lowbrow tactics (personal attacks in her case) are firmly on the table, getting practice being ruthless in now is sensible when we know we're going to be getting into duels with vampires out to kill us later.

Stamp down on her spine where you hit her before with all the force you can. Our win condition is one of us surrendering or being unable to fight. It seems unlikely that she'll surrender, so damaging her enough that she can't get up it is. And she's a vampire so that's a LOT of damage.
>>
No. 927369 ID: fde9cb

>>926634
For real, this was a great move.

Yeah, as long as her spine's broken, let's keep it that way. Hit the same place you just did, or a little above to make a new break. Maybe even go for the back of the neck so she can't use her arms either. It's harsh, but vampires are fuckers and the only thing the respect is more fuckery. Besides, our MOM!? Really!?

After that get a claw around her throat and threaten decapitation if she doesn't surrender.
>>
No. 927372 ID: 02dc85

definitely DO hit her while she's down, because i don't think she'll surrender unless she's physically unable to continue
>>
No. 927374 ID: aedfd9

Yeah, do hit her while she's down, maybe get her in some kind of submission hold until she forfeits. But watch out for her playing tricks like turning into tentacles or snakes or some other thing that could really fuck us up in a close-quarters grapple!
>>
No. 927376 ID: 7bc8ec

HIT HER WHILE SHES DOWN!!!
honor is for idiots. she is a dangerous opponent. to let regain momentum is foolish.

OR YA KNOW ASK IF ITS OVER WHILE YOURE APPROACHING HER TO STOMP HER INTO THE GROUND, OR SOMETHING
>>
No. 927377 ID: dc7900

>>927347
Oh man that was epic! and Kel's reaction was impressed. (also I'm so gay with her she looks so good in that panel *heart eyes*)

We definitely can't let our guard down, she'll heal eventually. What were the win conditions of this fight? I know it's not to the death but does she have to surrender? If so, we need to do something to make that happen.

Also ,music choice was perfect for this and was the perfect length of time, great work Ira!
>>
No. 927379 ID: 97d823

((BIG music choice holy crap. its SO good im freakin out. what a good fight!!!!!))

this is a gallowglass fight, now's the time to get brutal. you haven't had the proper chance to gauge her strength or abilities, so I'm honestly a bit unsure about beating her up while she's down, although I like the thought of breaking more of her spine, maybe try to break her legs more to drain more of her blood stores, but back off as quickly as you can

it's safe to say that you shouldn't ask if it's over though, that's a sign of weakness. its win or die here

the mist thing wont work again, she'll be expecting it and waiting to counter you. she might even be able to do something similar, turning incorporeal herself. keep an eye out for that.
>>
No. 927380 ID: 094652

Rack has used dirty tricks instead of techniques and this match is RANKED. There is little to gain from fighting for exp here.

Kick her while she's down and don't stop until she stops breathing. She can take it.
>>
No. 927388 ID: 0f15ab

Seconding that we shouldnt ask if its over! Theyll tell us if its over, and itll look Bad
>>
No. 927391 ID: 02e2dc

turn back into mist, float up into the air and do the ultimate flying elbow drop while rack's still down. can we do that
>>
No. 927392 ID: 2e6ab6

Hmm. I know I said stay on the offensive, but it might be worth just, taking a moment, keeping your distance, keeping an eye on rack, and clarifying the rules. Just in case. If there are no rules? Get ready to go back on the offensive. But it'd be a damn bad look if we went full aggro with no good reason. And while I'm usually a fan of decisive, somewhat brutal, victories, I'm gonna say kicking her while she's down is gonna be both a very bad look, and maybe a very bad move. This is still a training fight, even if Rack went and made it personal, and us going in for the kill here might be exactly what she's expecting.
>>
No. 927394 ID: 465a14

Keep killing Rack until it's acknowledged you win or Kel physically makes you stop.
>>
No. 927395 ID: 97d823

>>927391
hello i second this if it is at all possible
>>
No. 927396 ID: ac8aaf

hey this isn't relevant right this second but ricardo when you get the chance can you text bunji to ask about vampires and religion. send him a pic of cat with a pope hat or smth to start the convo
>>
No. 927397 ID: ecb684

Let's keep an eye on Rack for now, use the time to rebuild up shifting if it's needed but be ready to defend. Maybe flash a smile up to the balcony though, you did Good. Get a good feed in later with Pascal and then....Bouncy Bouncy
>>
No. 927402 ID: 986b2d

Okay that was REALLY METAL but let's not get too cocky. Rack's spine will probably take a minute to heal, so take that opportunity to recover. She didn't hit you when you were down, so extend the same courtesy, but don't take your eyes off her.
>>
No. 927410 ID: edade6

>>927372
oh wait i change my mind a bit. check in with rack, ask her if she's ok to continue
>>
No. 927411 ID: 7bc8ec

>>927410
noah fence but she didnt check in with us when she was pretending to be our mom. so i don't see why we'd extend her the same courtesy.
>>
No. 927415 ID: 0e2ebe

>>927410
The rules state that she can forfeit whenever she wants, she doesn't need us to prompt her.
>>
No. 927426 ID: 2e6ab6

Hell, maybe since she's down right now, parlay with *her* instead of the spectators. "We never clarified any rules, did we? What's the cutoff?" Something like that. No need to get other involved, and lets be honest... Vampires seem to love to talk. Might give you a minute to think about your strategy.
>>
No. 927431 ID: 82e3f0

please do not hit her while she’s down. she didnt do it to you and even if the mood has changed it’s just cruel? ricardo doesnt need to be needlessly cruel even if rack shot below the belt with the mom shift. also remember that these arent your enemies!!! it’s a duel and you have to take it seriously but ultimately these girls are going to be your allies and brutalizing them needlessly is as bad tactically as it is morally

your big advantage here is that she’s been holding a shift and she’s also bleeding relatively heavily so she’s going to tire quicker than you even being older & more experience. an aggressive offense when she’s om her feet again might have a better chance at working now than lunging did earlier, a partial cougar shift to conserve energy might work especially since shifting is ultimately your Big Weapon since ricardo’s raw strength pales in comparison to vampire age
>>
No. 927456 ID: 055cbc

That sounded like a end-of-the-fight conversation. And really, if twitching on the ground with a broken spine physically unable to fight for long enough for this conversation to happen isn't the end of the fight, then the ONLY stopping point is one of you dying. This is a test bout. So yeah, go ahead and ask out loud if this fight is done, but like, expect it to be done.
>>
No. 927470 ID: c8452a

>>927426
We did set the rules.
>>
No. 927474 ID: eb66b1

Imo i dont think we want any bad blood here.. and goin after rack might make her resent us. Ultimately these people are our allies, not enemies, so while we might not earn any respect by NOT kicking her while shes down, its better than running the risk of Really pissing off the girls who are gonna help us
>>
No. 927479 ID: 10c408

...I honestly can't believe a lot of you are suggesting we go and hit Rack while she's down.

As much as she'd deserve it, it's gonna be considered poor form at best. (And let's not forget that Strip's already vibrating like she wants to jump the railing and beat the unending life out of us)

At worst? We're gonna piss off *all of them, including Kel, forever.*

So let's not do that, please.
>>
No. 927488 ID: fde9cb

I get all the concerns about being respectful/not making enemies but honestly i think being ridiculously brutal *is* the way to win their respect. Rack opened this fight by abusing very personal information and emotionally manipulating us and everybody laughed about it, including those watching on the balcony. Rack was gleeful about how well it worked. i say again: vampires are fuckers and the only thing the respect is more fuckery.

and even if it isn't the right call, i'm too fired up with Mama's Boy Rage to care.
>>
No. 927494 ID: bb78f2

Fight's over. A vampire in this state is a dead vampire. Easy beheading and heart destruction. If she's immobilized for more that two seconds, she'd be dead in a non-sparring match.
>>
No. 927496 ID: fde9cb

>>927488
Actually now I'm reconsidering. I keep flip-flopping on this and it's made me go back and read a bunch of previous relevant entries. It reminds me of the thing with Minmin wanting info on Pascal in Chapter 2: "He is trying to find out what kind of man you are" and "But do you want him to think you are?” Do we want to be the kind of person that kicks them while they're down, even if everybody else does it? Do we want to seem like that guy?

It also made me go back and read up on Ricardo fighting as a kid in Chapter 1. I had forgotten about the line “Made me feel like there was something I was good at, besides violence." and how he learnt to just win the fight and move on.

Anyway sorry for puzzling through my thoughts in public but I settled. I'm chaging my vote to not being brutal. Ask if she surrenders/is alright as you walk over to her, and get into a position to threaten decapitation, but don't hit her again. We fucked her up. My Mama's Boy Rage is quelled. And I don't want to be that kinda guy.
>>
No. 927502 ID: fde9cb

There's always the possibility that Rack is totally fine (or at least, not as injured as she appears). She's clearly open to deceit and manipulation. Maybe her spine is fine and she's baiting us into striking range with our guard down.
>>
No. 927504 ID: 4675d0

Its time to get a physical because you need to be top notch to join the ladies. THEN ANOTHER SEXY BREAK!
>>
No. 927506 ID: 10c408

>>927502
In either case, we gain nothing by kicking her while she's down.
>>
No. 927507 ID: 2791fd

RICARDO I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU THE WHOLE TIME IM IN TEARS MY BOY IS SO GOOD

I STILL HAVE NO SUGGESTIONS THO BUT BE CAREFUL BB I LOVE YOU SHES PROBABLY NOT OUT YET
>>
No. 927508 ID: 2791fd

>>927488
they're probably right though; being brutal is how to win their respect

but whether ricardo wants to be that person is up in the air
>>
No. 927511 ID: 10c408

>>927508
You don't 'win' respect, you earn it.

And since Kel just got boggled by our smoke trick, I'd say we've sure as hell done that.

We don't need to establish our brutality any more than we already have after breaking rack's face and then HER ACTUAL SPINE.
>>
No. 927514 ID: c8452a

>>927511
Yeah but forfeiting a potential victory is going to lose any respect we just earned. The rules are clear, we fight until one of us can't, or until one of us surrenders. Rack hasn't surrendered yet and Kel hasn't called the match. Which means that Rack can still fight. She's a vampire, and still has use of her arms, she can fight. If she wants to.
>>
No. 927515 ID: c1212a

She didn't kick you while you were down, best to return the favor.
>>
No. 927518 ID: ce6598

No hitting while down Ricardo, recover your strength and keep your eyes on her. If she does get back up, play offensive and try to keep her tired out. There's time to brood and process the mama rage after the fight.
>>
No. 927534 ID: adabf3

Absolutely hit her while she's down!! Make sure she cannot fight anymore. The only reason she didn't hit us is because we weren't a threat. It would be really rude to take it easy on her.
>>
No. 927538 ID: 2791fd

>>927515
i feel like this is a more compelling argument for not kicking her than fuddling over respect and brutality. simply return the favor.
>>
No. 927539 ID: 2791fd

>>927538
return the favor *once.* if you get the opportunity again, take it, but like, just this once.
>>
No. 927547 ID: 304160

im pretty well against kicking while down. We should repay the favour she gave us, but also make it pretty damn clear that we won't do it again. Maybe we can pin her or something while she's healing? Restrain her to make a point?
>>
No. 927552 ID: c1eaac

>>927547

the rules say the duel stops when someone surrenders or can't fight any more, so pinning rack for as long as possible is a good move. let's just sit on her so she can't fight.
>>
No. 927554 ID: 4f943d

kel literally said if you surrender you don't belong in gallowglass, so why is anyone interested in giving rack that option when she obviously won't take it?
>>
No. 927555 ID: c1eaac

>>927554

being immobile and unable to fight isn't the same as surrender
>>
No. 927556 ID: 2e6ab6

I think this is a pretty critical junction. We can either see if they'll keep going, and then that's a whole other can of worms, fighting a shifter when *they know* that we can smoke it up. OR we can take a moment, keep our distance, and see if this is an acceptable end of the fight. Hell, if we need to, we can make the point that in any non-sparring fight, this would essentially be checkmate. I'm strongly against kicking her while she's down. That just seems unnecessary, and it's a move that'll potentially open up more problems than help us.
>>
No. 927561 ID: bb78f2

Just say out loud that if she can't get up within the next few seconds that she'd be vulnerable to a decapitation and heart destruction and the fights over since this is a sparring match meant to reflect a death or capture scenario we would likely encounter. If she wants to fight more, it's round two by the time she gets up.

It's that simple. It takes at least a few seconds for her spine to heal, probably, so the fights definitely over. She threw too much weight into her attack and that's on her.

Pin nothing, the fight's done, unless it's round two.
>>
No. 927563 ID: 3a522d

>>927554
yeah honestly why r any of us expecting her to forfeit when we wouldn't even do that?? she's Kel's ward, she's not going to forfeit, she's gonna hit us as hard as she can as soon as she can.. we need to make sure she doesn't get the chance. if that's brutal, well, cradle vamps are going to b even more brutal when we meet up w them, and Kel's wards know what they're preparing us for. refusing to hit her while she's down would come across as us not taking her seriously as an opponent, and we obv take her seriously. we need to be careful in how we attack her again bc shes likely waiting for us to get close before attacking us (she can still use her arms right?) so go for the neck, immobilize her completely, give her no choice but to end the fight. imo DON'T threaten to decapitated her. either do it or don't, there's no point in hedging and itll look like we don't have the guts to go thru with it. again, do we really think she's gonna surrender, even under threat of decapitation?? it seems doubtful to me
>>
No. 927564 ID: 4328b4

The thing that makes me think we absolutely shouldn't give her time to recover is there is no way psychological manipulation is her only tactic. And while seeing and fighting against whatever else she has would be good experience, that can happen later, demonstrating to the others that we are here to go the whole way and should be taken seriously for this training can be done now.

She's probably totally used to healing from this stuff. We're not making it so that she has to regenerate limbs or anything, just heal bones and organs which we've seen is very manageable if not ideal.

We have our morals to overcome long term, because when it comes to vampires actually trying to kill us we will need to hit people when they're down, so we need practice. After this is OVER we can sit down and tell rack "that was a fucking great fight, you had other tricks to pull, right?" or something else which shows no hard feelings. Our goal is clearly "win the fight" rather than bathory torture style bullshit.
>>
No. 927566 ID: 489abb

okay you can tell she's healing. you just messed up her nose. i really don't get why everyone's like 'well MAYBE we shouldn't be brutal here' because um...she kind of visited Your Fucking Mother to use in psychological manipulation. like they're 'trying to help' which i appreciate (i know if it was cradle vampires most likely they would have uh. actually done stuff to ricardo's mother rather than this)- but i really don't think that we have to worry about pissing off kel- she is trying to train us and there's a difference between 'do what you have to do to win against an enemy that is most likely stronger than you' and toying with her- kel and strip know that, and if they were to come busting into the ring to kill you because- what- you hurt rack in a non-lethal way? then that'd defeat the purpose of training. like they could squash you anytime. that's not what they're trying to do here.

also idt we should take 'strip is pissed and wants to murder us' as a valuable indicator of 'we're pissing off everyone here' i think she's just always pissed and wants to murder everyone.

that said here's my suggestion: jump on her back, see if you can pin her down and /before she heals/ change into something that has enough bite strength to get through her neck. i think it'd be a good idea to try to take her head, since that wouldn't kill her (we need head/heart BOTH destroyed to kill someone) BUT it'd incapacitate her beyond the shadow of a doubt- to be completely honest i'm at least partially expecting the broken spine to be healed within the next ten seconds if we don't keep going and then all we end up with is an angry vampire with cloth over her face and the ability to psychologically manipulate us so please hurry up ricardo.

also unrelatedly i think it might be good to figure out how to decapitate vampires quickly; in case we need to, say, take someone in for interrogation or we don't want to kill them in the future but we need to incapacitate them quickly.

....actually wait. do vampires breathe. would it be possible to just shift into mist -> get into an orifice of the face -> shift back -> rip out of the face and destroy head doing it rather than trying to rip through a neck when we don't know how strong we are

or is that too jojo stand and/or might get us killed
>>
No. 927568 ID: e3a778

The answer is simple. Do whatever would make your mother proud of you, Ricardo.
>>
No. 927575 ID: 7011e0

stop thinking about what everyone is possibly thinking about you and finish this duel, get her while you have the opportunity and take her head off (i don't remember what can and can't kill a vampire though so if that kills her forget it and do what will end the duel without a murder)

this is an assessment of what we're capable of, and rack did not pull punches when she underestimated us, and we need to show we won't pull any either. we want to win and get stronger, and if we hurt rack's feelings by showing her she shouldn't have let her guard down, oh well

it's gonna be life or death out there and we're gonna have to be dirty
>>
No. 927576 ID: 7011e0

>>927575
ok i am sorry to double post but i forgot to mention if we stomped her lower back hard enough to do damage to her spinal cord we can definitely do the same to her neck
>>
No. 927578 ID: 15ee9e

> “This is a friendly spar,” Kel yells out. Her voice echoes just a little, bounding off the polished parquet and the paneled walls. “For training purposes, got it? It stops when somebody surrenders or can’t fight anymore.”
The fight ends when Rack can't fight anymore. Unless she shifts her arms into snakes or something she cant hurt us with a broken back. Don't get carried away. casually ask if a broken spine counts as not being able to fight, if you want, but don't advance on her yet.
>>
No. 927579 ID: 10c408

>>927575
And if we piss off Rack by doing so, she knows exactly where Ricardo's mother lives and WHOOPSIE DAISIE THE MORTAL DIED.
>>
No. 927589 ID: 2e6ab6

Honestly, I feel like being brutal or merciless isn't gonna make us look good or competent. It's gonna make us look excessive. Duels aren't always deathmatches, and decapitating someone for no good reason is just gonna make us look like a violent jackass. I think that casually clarifying where the line is drawn here, in a *training* match is gonna win us a lot more respect. AND it'll make us better at figuring out where the line is drawn in more serious encounters. And hell, if the fight's still on, *then* we can talk about brutality if needed. I'm not suggesting we lower our guard for a goddamn second, but going full aggro is how rack just got tripped up by *us*. Let's not make that look like a fluke.
If everyone else is assuming this is over, or is open to it being over, and we keep going, then we look like the jackass. We can still be ready and wary without being hasty, and attacking right now feels needlessly hasty. We're not gonna win any "alpha points" or anything here. We're at the bottom of the fucking barrel for a goddamn good reason. And we're not gonna climb higher by just smashing heads. If it were that simple, I'm pretty sure Kel would be top fucking dog in the whole world, given how the meat pile talks. Making ourselves look good and in control is gonna be a hell of a lot more impressive than making ourselves look feral.
>>
No. 927594 ID: eb66b1

>>927589
I agree with you, and I also want to tie back to >>927496 , because I think what they said was really poignant. What kind of person do WE want to be? We were rightfully pissed at Rack for using an underhanded tactic, because we felt she was breaching a line. Do we want to be the kind of person who retaliates and breaches that very same line? It sure as hell won't make Pascal or Kel like us anymore. We can be better than this. If rack gets back up, we can deal with it; for the moment, though, we need to choose between control and brutality. I think it says a lot more about us if we pick control.

Think about it this way: Kel and the gallowglass girls are an army. And generally, soldiers who mindlessly attack others get the boot
>>
No. 927604 ID: 97d823

I strongly agree with all the suggestions to ask whether or not the fight is over!! it might make you look weaker, but it's only your first day!! you already impressed kel, so you can relax a bit!!
>>
No. 927618 ID: fde9cb

yeah i agree with asking Rack/Kel if the fight's over. i don't think anyone expected us to put up a serious fight, so they figured clarification wouldn't be needed cause we'd just end up surrendering. this is only our second duel, we don't know what 'can't fight anymore' means.

we're just so completely in the dark here. we know vampires are all violent maniacs, but to what extent? how far is too far? what does 'can't fight anymore' mean? do Gallowglasses tolerate hitting someone while they're down?
we need to learn the boundaries of what's acceptable, and that means asking (or being shown, if Rack turns around and kicks our ass). i'd rather fall short than go too far. after all, this is training - we're here to learn.
>>
No. 927655 ID: 7011e0

alright, alright, after some reading of the discussion that happened since i suggested and some thinking i'm flipping my vote over to the "at least ask if it's over" side. i stand by what i said about not playing around anymore but you guys are right, we don't need to go full force just yet
>>
No. 927682 ID: c8452a

Training or not, I just don't want to lose the first fight we have with these badasses, not if it's a possibility. We can worry about trying to parse the unsaid standards or going too far later. As long as we don't kill Rack we haven't done anything wrong or lost our way or whatever. I just don't see why tempting failure is the only way we can learn.
>>
No. 927707 ID: 2791fd

>>927589
this person won me over
>>
No. 927918 ID: caccde

I think we should just check her, get on her back and pin her down wrestling style. It lets us concisely demonstrate that we *can* off her if we want, but that we aren't, and demonstrates our skill without clearly actually going for the kill. If she throws us and gets back into it without Kel stopping it, then it's clear we'd keep going and then all bets are off. Being cruelly brutal is one thing, showing dominance and a straight win is another. It let's us show Control under tense emotions
>>
No. 927931 ID: 97d823

>>927496
this this this this this

i had voted for hitting her and then backing off before, and i 1000% standby the concept of NOT asking if the fight is over. i feel that thats still too cowardly & will look bad, but i think its a good idea to be the kind of person we want to be, which is the type of person who shows mercy, even in the face of underhanded tactics and potentially an easy victory.

WWRMD (what would ricardo's mom do)
>>
No. 927945 ID: 465a14

>>927931
lbr ricardo's mom would absolutely demolish anyone pulling this sort of shenanigans on her baby
>>
No. 928122 ID: b463f2

"This match was to see what I'm capable of, wasn't it? I think that baseline's been established; I don't see any point in continuing further."
>>
No. 928145 ID: 270774
File 155408957985.png - (81.65KB , 800x525 , 426.png )
928145

Ricardo’s eyes are fixed warily on Rack’s twitching form. She’s slipping, now, his mother’s thin limbs giving way to her sturdier form, which makes it easier and easier to watch.

He wants to keep going. He doesn’t know if he should.

All in the span of a split second, the turmoil in his mind gives way to a memory, fifteen years ago.
>>
No. 928146 ID: 270774
File 155408959858.png - (291.74KB , 800x525 , 427.png )
928146

He’s sitting on the kitchen counter.

“So this kid is in the hospital now.” His mother is speaking Portuguese, in that particular tone of hers — businesslike exasperation. “And you put him there.”

Ricardo says nothing. The gauze around his knuckles is sticking to the raw skin already, and he’s already thinking about how much it’s going to suck to pull off.

“And now his whiny mother is up my ass, talking about how I have to pay his medical bills,” his mother continues. “Do you have money for that? Because I don’t.”

“No, mãe,” Ricardo mumbles.

She stops her ministrations for a moment, leaning back, and lets her hands drop to her sides. “What’s the matter with you, huh?”

Ricardo shrugs. That’s clearly not cutting it for her.

“You’re not stupid, Ricardo. And you’re not violent, not by nature. You’re capable of controlling yourself, don’t act like you’re not.” Her voice is rising. “There is no reason—”

“He deserved it,” Ricardo cuts in heatedly.

“Fine! I’m sure he did!” Andy throws her damp rag down on the counter. “I believe you, Ricardo. But who said you deserve to give it to him? Hm? Somebody made you Batman?”

Ricardo’s eyes drop to the tiled floor between his mother’s feet. He counts grout lines. “No, mãe.”

“Yeah.” She picks the rag back up and uncaps a bottle of rubbing alcohol. “So cool it with the vigilante justice, hm?”

She starts to dab at one of the scrapes on his cheekbone, and he jerks away, irritably. “What, so I’m supposed to just let them do whatever they want? Doesn’t matter if I try to take the high road. They’ll all keep being the same.”

“You’re talkative today,” Andy observes. She takes his chin, firmly but gently, to keep him still. “Ricardo. I am never going to tell you not to stand up for yourself. I’m proud of you when you do.” Ricardo can feel her cool, measured gaze on his face, and eventually reluctantly meets it, knowing she’s paused to wait for him to do so. When she speaks again, her voice is steady and emphatic. “But you’re a Castro. You hear me? You finish what you started, no more, no less. And then you walk away. That’s how we do things.”

Ricardo lapses into silence. His mother shakes him by the grip on his chin, lightly. “You hear me?”

>>
No. 928147 ID: 270774
File 155408961693.png - (54.39KB , 800x525 , 428.png )
928147

Yeah, yeah, mãe. Leave me alone already.

Ricardo cracks his neck and starts a slow walk across the floor towards Rack. “Hey. You done?”

Rack is pushing herself upright on shaking arms, her palms slipping on the blood on the floor. Her legs are twitching now, weakly, as nerves connect beneath skin and bone. “Fuck you,” she hisses.
>>
No. 928148 ID: 270774
File 155408964470.png - (147.07KB , 800x525 , 429.png )
928148

Okay. Not done. He reaches her and stomps down, in one swift and brutal motion, on the back of her neck. It creaks, at first, as he presses his weight down, and then snaps, and she shrieks with rage.

“I could have destroyed both your head and your heart,” Ricardo says, quietly. “In the time you spent laying here.”

Rack’s eye swivels to fix on him, wide and manic. “But you didn’t,” she hisses. “And when I—”
>>
No. 928152 ID: 270774
File 155408994231.png - (170.42KB , 800x525 , 430.png )
928152

“Rack.” It’s Kel’s booming voice, from the balcony. “I’m calling it.”

“What!” Rack can’t struggle or move, but her face is alive with outrage. “What the fuck! Why?! I’m still conscious!”

“I’m calling it,” Kel repeats. “You can’t fight.”

“Yeah I can,” Rack insists, breathless and angry. “Yeah I can! When I get up—”

“How? How are you gonna get up? Give me the step by step. You think he’s gonna wait and let you regen? You think he’s not gonna take your head off and punt it out into the hallway?”

Rack scoffs. “He really might not’ve,” she mutters under her breath.

“This was a favor,” Ricardo hisses down at her. “You waited while I was down. I waited while you were down, til you made it clear you weren’t finished. That’s all.”

“This isn’t a fight anymore, so it’s over,” Kel continues. “Ribeye, let her up.”

Ricardo lifts his foot and steps back, though Kel doesn’t wait for Rack to finish healing before she goes on speaking.

“Rack, I know you know what you did wrong, because we’ve already talked about it before. One, the first time he went down, you should have ended it.”

“Aw, psh,” says Rack. She’s still facedown on the floor. “Then he wouldn’t’ve learned anything.”

“He would’ve learned that you get downed, you die,” Kel counters. “Two, and we’ve talked about this plenty, so I don’t wanna see this mistake again. Your technique is good if you can use it to incapacitate immediately. But the second they get over that mental block, you need to drop it and try something else. Okay? You always hang on to that form, thinking they still aren’t gonna wanna hit a loved one hard and that it’s gonna spare you some damage, but over and over again it doesn’t work like that. This is a short term opener strategy only, and if it doesn’t take them down you have to abandon it, and I’m tired of going over that with you.”

From this angle, Ricardo can see her rolling her eyes, though Kel can’t. “Yes, General.”

“And you, Ribeye.” Ricardo turns his eyes back up to the balcony as Kel addresses him. “Tell me again, how long have you been dead?”

“Five years.”

“No training?”

“I trained myself.”

“Pascal didn’t teach you anything, the past few days?”

Ricardo’s brain moves, absurdly, towards the van. “Nothing about combat.”

Kel lets out a low whistle. When she folds herself forward to lean against the railing, she’s grinning. “But you grew up scrapping, I can see that much.”

Ricardo meets her gaze. “I never enjoyed it.”

Kel snorts dismissively, blowing a heavy lock of red hair out of her face. “You’re a vampire now, kid. You enjoy battle, whether you want to or not. It’s in the blood.” She leans back again, one hand still firm on the railing. “Well! War is women’s work, but you’re not a lost cause. You’re lucky Rack underestimated you, but it would also be stupid to say that was all luck.” She releases the railing, finally, one hand lifted in a loose, careless gesture. “Not bad. You go get cleaned up, and when you’re done, you’re gonna come see me again. We’re gonna chat.”

“Fine,” Ricardo says. Rack’s finally healed enough to move again, and she punches him in the side of the foot and makes a face at him. “Fine, General?” Ricardo tries halfheartedly.

“There we go,” says Kel. Rack gives him a wobbly thumbs up.
>>
No. 928153 ID: 465a14

>>928150
"...Yeah. Thanks."
>>
No. 928154 ID: 270774
File 155408996366.png - (136.39KB , 800x525 , 431.png )
928154

The women on the balcony are staying there, chatting lightly amongst themselves now that the spectacle of the duel is over, and Ricardo sees Pascal trying in vain to push past them to get to the stairs before turning his attention back to Rack. She’s healed enough to sit up, and he extends his hand to help her to her feet.

The gesture was automatic, but he can’t think of anything he wants to say to her. She picks up the slack, the way outgoing people often do around him. “That was a good match! Listen, you only won ‘cause I fucked up so much, but it was still cool.” She wipes at her face with one hand, but really only manages to smear the blood around. “You’re okay, Ribeye.”

Ricardo finally remembers what he wanted to say, and he doesn’t care that it’s a non sequitur. “If you ever go near my mother again, I’ll kill you.”

“Ooh, big words from fresh meat,” Rack laughs. She relents, though, and looks up at Ricardo with an expression that’s the tiniest fraction softer. “You know, preparing for this isn’t the only reason I went to L.A.”

“I don’t care,” Ricardo grumbles.

“Uh, yeah, you do. Can you let me finish?” Rack flexes her wrists as she speaks, testing the range of motion flooding back into her limbs as her spinal column finally mends entirely. “I figured if I could track down your mom, so could anyone from the Cradle. I mean, if they even thought to try — their brains don’t really work like that, you know? Like, they don’t think about humans, ever, unless they’re politicians or important CEOs or whatever. But that’s still a pretty big risk, don’t you think? So — well, there’s a few den bosses out there who owe the General favors, and they’re keeping an eye on her, day and night. Without bugging her the way I did, obviously. And if anyone comes poking around looking for her, they’re gonna make sure they leave L.A. empty-handed.” Rack rocks back on her heels, looking pleased with herself. “That cool by you, big guy?”
>>
No. 928156 ID: 9fcd43

hug her, omg

and then CALL YOUR FUCKING MOM
>>
No. 928157 ID: 7e9c89

oh absolutely thank her, though if we can at all safely we should... probably double check that w/ someone who is not her. minmin wouldnt work cos he'd potentially sell the info again so i'm not sure.. also do we need to call kel ma'am?? sir?
>>
No. 928159 ID: c1eaac

THANK RACK. she didn't Have to do that for your mom, but she did, so definitely thank her. and tell her good match! maybe next time she'll get to kick your ass.
>>
No. 928160 ID: 7011e0

good match to you too, rack, and thanks for keeping an eye on her then. we owe kel a thanks when we see her next.

how are the other girls looking? and let's go meet up with pascal because obviously he's wanting to tell us how Cool! we are
>>
No. 928161 ID: aedfd9

1) Hug her and thank her. 2) Call your mom and tell her you love her! 3) Ask more about the various bosses, either from Rack after she's healed or from someone else. But I don't think Andy should be with anyone but Kel - we know Kel's gang, we trust Kel's gang. We DEFINITELY want Andy protected and in Vegas! But preferably with Kel, bc she's the only person we've spoken to and trust.
>>
No. 928162 ID: aedfd9

Oh and tell Rack you want to become her friend!!
>>
No. 928164 ID: 14e641

Confirm, had she kept her guard up you would have been in her position. It is really cool of them to keep an eye on momma Andy. You should find a burner cell or an inconspicuous telephone booth to call her and tell her theres something going on, you can't come home until it's sorted, and please don't talk to strangers. You'll be fine, but she needs to be careful.
>>
No. 928166 ID: 70df1e

THANK HER FOR HER KINDNESS
>>
No. 928167 ID: b1b4f3

>>928154
Tell her that is extremely okay, but... why? Do they do that for all new recruits?
>>
No. 928173 ID: eb66b1

maybe cry a lil bit bc thank god ur mom's safe. Give rack a pat on the back. Hug pascal. Literally just go to ur room and cry for 30 mins because by god youve earned it


And then


CALL YOUR MOM
>>
No. 928176 ID: b1b4f3

...I wonder if Rack is so hesitant to switch away from the stolen form because she's too attached to the feeling of being loved. Does she not have anything like that of her own?
>>
No. 928178 ID: a6fa51

thank her quietly because youre getting choked up.
>>
No. 928181 ID: ce6598

>>928154
That's definitely okay but still... a lot to process. Emotions are prolly outta whack and conflicted from the mama's boy rage, but you're definitely gonna start tearing up before you get out of there. Thank Rack as sincerely as you can for that and for the match, and see if you can get outta there before she sees just how much her performance has fucked with your head. Mom's really the only thing that ties Ricardo back to his pre-vampire time. Having to smash her head in, then hearing she's in danger, and then that Rack's been making sure she's protected. Yeah, pretty screwed.

Calling mom is definitely a decent idea, but... it'll take either some working up to it later on or just doing it impulsively before you have a chance to process the swirly mess of emotions properly.
>>
No. 928182 ID: 4328b4

Awkward side hug because that's really really nice. hold in the tears. you're trying to be gallowglass. gallowglass don't cry.

also ask her how andy was. Did she seem okay? Was the whole still thinking he's alive thing a ploy, or does she really think you're still out there?

If rack wasn't lying you definitely need to call her and explain everything. Particularly because I'm not so sure she'd have bought into rack's act, even if she pretended to while she was there, and she might have taken this random person showing up 5 years down the track to talk about ricardo as a sign that he's still around and be back on the hunt for him which could result in her getting into danger.
>>
No. 928184 ID: 23dc9d

YEah Ricardo has a lot to process, plus having this duel be right after the long road trip with barely any rest means his brain has really gone through the wringer now. Thank Rack for sure but admit you've got to have some space to think for a bit while to you to clean up and take the opportunity to rest a bit for once.
>>
No. 928190 ID: febfad

>>928182

definitely thank rack and I agree big time about asking how your mom was!
>>
No. 928191 ID: c8452a

I was going to suggest that Ricardo instead tell his mom to move somewhere he didn't know about, but I bet she wouldn't be happy with that.

Still, I also don't just trust random dens that you've never met and don't even know about their reputation. Like, if any of them are at all mercurial that's a bad situation.

So really, that's a half-hearted thank you
for and a complicated situation from someone who is an asshole. No hugs whatsoever.
>>
No. 928208 ID: 846394

>>928191
Agreed on the hugs. Even if we did want to do it, dunno if we could get past all the weirdness of having just fought her, her turning into our mum and all. Helping her up, bein' a grumbly squirmy mess and tryna get somewhere better before working through everything or collapsing, cool. Going in for a full hug, maybe Pascal'd be better at that right now
>>
No. 928210 ID: fde9cb

express as much gratitude as we can in our very conflicted state (honestly i'm not sure we're capable, emotionally speaking, of hugging right now).
>>
No. 928229 ID: b463f2

Good job Ricardo, you did it! You may have only gotten the chance to win because Rack was being overconfident, but You sure Did It once you got that opportunity, and impressed both Kel and Pascal - that's gotta feel good! Bask in that glow for a bit.

I! Love! Rack! and it's Awesome that she got some protection going on for Andy, and I feel like we have to appreciate that.

As to calling Andy - again, I think we need to be really careful how we go about it. Hearing from us at all is going to be HUGELY emotional and confusing for her, and very much the same for us - do we have the time and space to make that contact now? I definitely agree with Soon, but also......... I think Ricardo could use some time to ground in the present, and rest from the drive and that fight.

Maybe we could talk with Pascal about some of our feelings about our mom, and do some work on figuring out how to safely - for us and for her - connect with Andy again, instead of just leaping into doing it without thinking through the chain of reactions that's going to happen.

And then.... let's feed some, because we haven't fed for days and we just used our powers, and probably, some bouncy bouncy after, knowing Ricardo and Pascal...........

also:

>>928176
oh my gosh my feelingssssss..... Rack sweetie.....
>>
No. 928234 ID: 606175

>>928154
Definitely thank her, but i don't think we're too a hug place. Helping her up is enough.

I want to call our mom, but I feel like it might cause more harm then good, we've been missing for over 5 years, it will be a big shock and she seems determined, and might try to find us. So maybe hold of on contacting her.

We need to get cleaned up, and feed also, we weren't healing well in the fight. Then talk to Kel.

Also I'm 1000% Pascal in this panel >>928152
>>
No. 928253 ID: e3a778

It’s cool that Rack set up protection for our mom, but she’s still an asshole who went and stalked her and brought up her (presumed dead) son, reopening old wounds, in order to be better at beating us up. Thanks are in order, but not anything more than that.

Meet up with Pascal, and when we get to the room I think we should call our mom. It’s going to be hard and complicated and we might not be able to tell her the whole truth, but I think more than anything she deserves to know that her son is alive (kind of.) She’s probably been imagining all kinds of awful things that could have happened and grieving. She deserves to know that we’re more or less okay, even if it makes things much more complicated in the future.
>>
No. 928358 ID: 270774
File 155417729219.png - (117.46KB , 800x525 , 432.png )
928358

“... Yeah.” Ricardo’s throat is tight and sore. He ignores it. “Thanks.”

He doesn’t want to say more than that. He doesn’t want Rack to touch him. He doesn’t even particularly want her to be acting this friendly. All he can think about is Rack picking at his mother’s scabs, and then sitting outside her apartment, watching her through the window.

He doesn’t really want to be friends, right now.

There are still questions, though, and he asks them. “Did she seem — I don’t know. Was she okay. Is she doing alright.”

Rack sighs, and if she was trying for tact, it doesn’t land. “Dude, I don’t know what to tell you. Like, if I’m being honest? She looked like somebody whose kid has been missing for five years, talking about her missing kid. So, like, ‘okay’ and ‘alright’ are not words I would use.” She shrugs — or maybe she’s just rolling her shoulders to loosen them. “But I meant it, when I said she’s tough. And I also meant it when I said she was really trying to give me some hope, or something. I still don’t think she believed it herself, but… well. Let’s say she’s holding it together, even if I can’t say she’s ‘okay.’”

“Okay.” His throat tightens, tightens, as if constricted from the outside. He wants this conversation to be over.
>>
No. 928359 ID: 270774
File 155417730779.png - (93.28KB , 800x525 , 433.png )
928359

And it is, a moment later, because Pascal barrels into him hard enough that he stumbles a few steps.

“Ricardo! You were so cool!” Pascal’s arms are around his waist, his body pressing cool through the thin fabric of Ricardo’s tank top, and he’s rubbing his face enthusiastically against Ricardo’s shoulder. “How clever, to use your shirt to pull her like this, and —”

He stops, suddenly, eyes roving uncertainly over Ricardo’s face, and his breathless smile drops into a small, puzzled frown. “Ricardo? Are you not happy, to have won?”

Ricardo can’t tell what face he’s making. Apparently it’s bad. He looks away. “I’m tired.” To the side, he sees Rack watching them with vague interest. He doesn’t like that. “Come on. Let’s go.”
>>
No. 928360 ID: 270774
File 155417734397.png - (102.23KB , 800x525 , 434.png )
928360

“Oh, yes, of course!” Pascal glances over his shoulder briefly, trying to follow Ricardo’s glare, but he’s quickly ushered towards the ballroom doors. “Kel has given me the keys to our room already. Isn’t it so odd, that they are doing it as these little cards lately, instead of as proper metal keys! It has been a while since I have used a hotel, and so I forgot that it was this way now. Look, these little cards even have a crown on them, like the logo of the hotel, but with this ink that is so shiny, so I really think they are cute, and...” His usual bright chattering loses momentum and speed, and Ricardo looks down to find Pascal looking at him intently again.

“I’m fine,” he says, before Pascal can even make any inquiries. Pascal furrows his brow. Ricardo’s only barely aware of where they’re going, catching signs out of his peripheral and changing course as needed. He crosses his arms when they get into the elevator. Pascal hasn’t said anything, still, and he dreads the inevitable.

“You were hurt,” Pascal says, finally.

Ricardo exhales and drops his head back against the mirrored wall. “It’s fine. It wasn’t that bad, and it’s all already healed. I should feed, though, because —”

“It hurt you,” Pascal says again, more firmly this time, and Ricardo reluctantly lets his head roll to the side, just enough to glance at him.

He can’t think of anything to say, so he doesn’t say anything. Pascal also seems to be struggling. When he finally does speak, his voice is quiet.

“I don’t understand what you are feeling,” he admits. He’s fussing with the hem of his long sleeve, the side of one claw scraping softly against the velvet. “I could not understand why it was so difficult for you, the beginning of this fight.” He’s speaking very slowly, with a kind of focus and caution that feels uncharacteristic. “I cannot remember my mother’s name, or her face.”

He tires of fidgeting with his sleeves and looks up at Ricardo again, tone brightening. “But, of course, this means if I think of her, I do not feel any pain. It can be better that way, I think. It can be best to forget.”

Ricardo knows he’s trying to help. He tries, with all his might, not to be frustrated by this. “I think I’m going to need some privacy,” he says, quietly. “When we get back to the room.”

Pascal looks back down at his hands, the corners of his smile wavering. “Ah. To call her, probably?” He doesn’t respond, which is enough for Pascal to continue. “Well. I will tell you, plainly, that I think this is a bad idea. Maybe you will think me cruel. But it is better to just abandon these things. It is easier if your sire forbids you—”

Ricardo snaps his gaze down again, tense and reactive, and Pascal lets out an unsteady exhale and makes a loose, aimless gesture. “No, no. I am not saying I will. But I was forbidden, and so it was easier for me than if I could do as I liked.”

The elevator comes to a stop, and they step out. “I do not have the right to forbid you from anything,” Pascal continues. “You can do as you like, always.” The room isn’t too far down the hall, and Pascal pauses at the door, both keycards still held loosely in his palm. “If you would like me to leave you to do this, I will.” He slides one keycard out from under the other, towards Ricardo, and looks up at him. “But … you will send me a message when you are finished, yes? And I will come back.” He tries for a smile, again. “I can draw you a bath. Kel is impatient, but you need some little rest.”
>>
No. 928362 ID: 4f943d

maybe we should wait? it's been five years, a few days isn't going to make a difference. kel and her wards seem to eschew the traditional vampire way of doing things, we should ask them how they felt, what they did with human relations, if they had any when they were turned
>>
No. 928363 ID: 2e6ab6

HHHHHHHHH Pascal's trying SO hard to be considerate!!! For now just I think you should just nod and promise to send him a message when you're ready to see him. He might say stupid shit, but he means well, and he clearly wants to see you happy, at least... Don't take anything out on him. At least. Not right now.
>>
No. 928364 ID: 02e2dc

it hurts to say this, but i still think calling your mom is a bad idea. like, what are you gonna say to her? "hey, i've been missing for 5 years, but i can't tell you where i am or what i'm doing? and i'm never coming back, sorry?" imo that's even worse than her not knowing.

pascal may not know how you feel, but he's trying to help despite that. i think it's sweet of him... don't hold it against him
>>
No. 928365 ID: aedfd9

Yeah... maybe we should just have a back, think about undeath, and figure some stuff out about what's going on in our head before calling our mom - it'll be a pretty startling phone call for her anyway and we'd want to know how to answer all the questions she definitely has. Maybe call her around dawn, as we're going to bed and she's waking up? But first - figure out how we're feeling, what we're hoping for from our near future, and whether to bring her to Vegas.
>>
No. 928367 ID: b1b4f3

>>928360
It might be easier to just forget. It might hurt less in the long run. But that's just how much it'd hurt you. You can do something to ease your mother's pain, so you will.
It'll be short. You just need to let her know that you're not dead, but you can't come home. You're finishing something you started. Tell her not to worry, she's not in danger and you've got powerful allies who are helping you grow strong enough to keep yourself safe. Today was your first day of training and it seemed to go well.
Tell her you don't know when you'll call her again.
>>
No. 928368 ID: 7e9c89

calling her while you're this upset is.. not a good idea, wait til you've thought about it and are calm - pascal's really trying, though. he's a good boy . it'd be nice to take a bath alone n try and unwind before going back out, also feed? probably??
>>
No. 928369 ID: 243f59

Cool story Pascal but there is no way Ricardo is going to intentionally forget Andy. Pascal is trying to be as sensitive as he is capable of but jeez he's an ass. Ricardo will suffer under his good boy guilt, thanks.

Before Pascal goes, awkwardly ask if you can fuck later. Physical activity where no one is turning into his mother will be comforting before sleep.

Then call Andy. You don't have to actually say anything, but call her. Tho, is your cell number private? If not, find a payphone or work out another way to call her without opening things up for her to call back. There's a shitload of auto-diallers and whatever it could be instead of her long lost son, so it wouldn't be suspicious.
>>
No. 928370 ID: 7011e0

hmm. i don't know if we are ready just yet to call her, especially since it's going to be a huge fucking deal and she's going to want to see us IMMEDIATELY (or think it's a cruel joke and i don't want to think about that) but we aren't really going to have any other time we're going to be in one spot for a while. so, i say shoot. this will be hard but i don't want us going up against the cradle with any regrets.

say yes to that bath though, and thank pascal for trying. he's doing his best at least. maybe being around non-cradle people will improve his social skills
>>
No. 928371 ID: 77945f

RICARDO CALL YOUR MOM CHALLENGE

maybe consult kel (you can just text her) on if she knows any Safe ways for you to be able to call your mom but not put her in danger. ricardo i am begging you to find a way to call your mom. you don't have to tell her ur a vampire now (although i doubt she would tell anyone) but just like!!! CALL HER!!!!!!

i would suggest cute riscal bathtime shenanigans but that can wait cuz ricardo needs to be alone to process things. as someone else suggested, calm down before calling her. which is why i think it's a good idea to ask kel about ensuring ur mom's safety!!!
>>
No. 928372 ID: 8ca664

sleeping on it might be a good idea and gives us time to think of what to tell andy (if ricardo calls her). obviously telling her you're a vampire is not an option but maybe there's something we can say that won't crush her or give her false hope. but i'm not sure if that's better than just leaving her to always wonder what happened to her kid.
seconding sending pascal a text when you're done, he's trying really hard to give you the space you need and that's sweet.
>>
No. 928373 ID: e21b4e

tell him that youre, thinking about calling her but you dont know, and tell him thanks. hold his hand, very gently. its not like you can see her or tell her anything, that's too dangerous right now. you're stuck in vegas - you have cradle vamps on your tail, and youre in danger. to call her, to be able to say nothing, not where you are or what happened or anything substantiate, and to have to tell her im sorry mãe but i cant see you right now and i dont know when i will, that will hurt you. that will hurt you both.
>>
No. 928374 ID: eb66b1

Ok my smart brain knows calling mom is probably a bad idea
However
my dumb brain is incredibly distressed right now and i want mom to know we're okay.... bring her to the hotel or something!! Call her cell!!!she needs to know we're alive!!!
>>
No. 928375 ID: 4675d0

Pascal must go get condoms to make it up to Ricardo (whom talks to him mom for a second and eats and needs relief before seeing the pack).
>>
No. 928376 ID: 15ee9e

>>928368
>>928362
i like these suggestions! also if we do call, it might be better to leave a voice mail. it would be easier on us emotionally, and we can plan out what we're going to say without fearing questions we cant safely answer. does andy have a facebook or something (for that matter, do we?)? we can see how she's doing that way without having to make direct contact tonight in our current emotional state.
>>
No. 928377 ID: fde9cb

tbh i'm starting to doubt whether we should contact Mom at all. this is a woman who didn't even want us to fight in the schoolyard - how's she going to react to 'hey Mom, i'm still alive (in a sense), i've killed dozens of people and will kill hundreds more.' what we even do? we either tell her that we're alive but nothing else, leaving her in a torturous state of confusion, or... what? let her know we're a monster now? induct her into vampire society? depressing as it is, letting her think we're dead might be the least awful choice. maybe there's a way to give her and ourselves closure without completely upending her entire world.

in the meantime, just take some time to think things through and get our head straight.
>>
No. 928378 ID: b1b4f3

>>928377
Correction, she thought it was okay that he was fighting, but didn't like how far he was going. He put a kid in the hospital.
>>
No. 928384 ID: 70df1e

thank pascal, promise to call him back when youre done and call your MOM
>>
No. 928386 ID: b463f2

yes, let's have some time to process and reflect before reaching out. I think it's really important for Ricardo to think about his feelings and experiences, and how he sees the structure for this time going forward - and how that interacts with the potential paths of connecting with Andy.

I really appreciate that Pascal is working on being careful with what he says, and on clarifying that Ricardo's path is his own to decide.
>>
No. 928388 ID: c8452a

Jeez, all it took was one post and already the massive mom call backdown. Of course he should call her. It's not about how he feels, it's about helping his mom cope. Which will obviously improve Ricardo's mood but it should be about helping her.

Also who knows how much time he has. He's hunted now, when he wasn't before. Both him and his mom could have not as much time as they'd hope. Also, she's strong but she shouldn't have to keep struggling with this any longer than necessary. If Ricardo can just be strong enough to call her now, for just a little while longer, he could let her stop fighting that dread.
>>
No. 928403 ID: c1eaac

promise to call pascal in later, take a little bit of time to calm down and let the adrenaline wear off (maybe have a glass of water), then call your MOM
>>
No. 928405 ID: 5496d2

you've just had to fight someone who was using your mum's form. now is not even remotely the time to try and have a conversation with her. i think that you should thank pascal, acknowledge that he's trying to understand and let him know you also understand what he's saying too, then take a bath and try to calm down as much as you can.

think about WHY you want to call her and what it would do for her. would it hurt her to know you'll never see each other again? will it make her happy to hear from you regardless? this will be HUGE to her either way and can't be taken lightly. we have to figure out our precise goal with calling her - even if it does end up purely being Good Boy Guilt - before we do anything.
>>
No. 928407 ID: c1212a

Don't call, write. You suck eggs at expressing yourself verbally on any day of the week, upset or not, and you don't want anything to happen because a semipublic phoneline was bugged. Snail mail should be safe, you can even use a remailing service if you're feeling paranoid.
>>
No. 928415 ID: 8e4a5f

call your mom. tell her you're alive, at least. maybe she'll be angry for the soul-crushing radio silence, but you'll have to take that. you've seen some shit in those 5 years and were kinda hyperfocused on training to kill pascal but you could have called at any point. do it now, and let her voice calm you, even if she gets angry. you have no obligation to tell her what you are doing, but even knowing your out there at all is a big comfort for a parent
>>
No. 928427 ID: febfad

>>928377
agree with this - do not call your mom. she loves you deeply, but for a human i think its better to believe your son to be dead than having to reconcile the boy you raised with a killer who will continue to kill.

i don't think you should forget her, though. it's important to remember her and remember the kind of person she brought you up to be, new set of morals notwithstanding.
>>
No. 928433 ID: 97d823

ricardo *do not call your mom*!!!! it might make *you* feel better, but what will you even say to her?? "hi, it's your dead son, letting you know that I'm not 'dead' but I'm not coming home either." like what???? that would just make her feel worse!! if you really want to do something for your mom, then let her find peace on her own time. she may never fully recover, but she'll feel even worse if her baby is refusing to come home for some unknown reason!! you already know the kind of person she is, so do you *really* think that she'll just let you go?? she'll try to come after you, which could get her killed or even turned!! do you really want that for her??
>>
No. 928434 ID: 23dc9d

We should call out mom, despite what anyone else is saying here. We don't have to give our life story to her or anything, but just letting her know that you are alive is enough. It doesn't necessarily have to be calling her directly because I can get that is hard, but maybe voice mail or some other kind of message could suffice.

I don't think Ricardo should do that now however, especially not RIGHT after this fight and with his emotions like this. Its better to sleep on it until he has a clearer head to form words and confront this. It SHOULD still happen though we can't suddenly get cold feet.
>>
No. 928440 ID: 36cd08

I think calling her would help her but...what are we going to say to her?

Tell her that we're fine? Do you think Ricardo's mom would just...accept a vague answer like that? I'm not opposed to the idea but also--we really need to think about what we're going to say to her. Choose our words carefully.
>>
No. 928441 ID: e3a778

I agree that we need to call her, for her sake more than Ricardo’s, but I also agree we need to wait and calm down before we do. Maybe we should just accept that bath first. Even if Ricardo’s not feeling up to coping via sexy break, being able to get clean and relax a little should put him in a better mindset.

Talking to Pascal about it might help, as well. I understand that Ricardo probably doesn’t want to spill everything he’s feeling to him (and is probably incapable of doing so even if he wanted), but the fact that Pascal’s mindset is so different from ours - so inhuman - might actually help put things in perspective.
>>
No. 928472 ID: d00c95

>>928433
I disagree with this, from what we know of Andy she's more than happy to let Ricardo live his life even if that means he drifts away from her. The issue was him up and vanishing without a word, she could have handled him saying "I'm going to Europe to fight bears, probs gonna die" or literally any word better than ghosting her. So knowing he's not dead in a ditch will help her even if we don't give her more than that or come back. Giving her any kind of closure is a good idea, and since Ricardo isn't dead (undead, ttly different) that closure won't come in the form of his body turning up, so we're already exceeding expectations.

Even if it's not immediately we need to call her. No excuses.
>>
No. 928473 ID: 2e6ab6

I'm not inherently *against* calling mom, but we need to seriously think about if that's the best idea, and if we do decide to, we need a very, very coherent plan on what to say, or at least, what we can tell her. Right now the best thing I can think of is just, after promising Pascal that you'll call when you're up to it, taking a little to just be alone and decompress. Figure out the best course of action from here.
>>
No. 928475 ID: c8452a

>>928427
You know she doesn't have to learn about the murdering.
>>
No. 928540 ID: 0c8cbe

Yeah I reckon we need to call her. Even if it's a not-great idea at the moment, and even if it's pretty brief. If we can go plan it a bit or ask Kel or sleep on it then cool, but with our head the way it is it feels like those options are gonna be hard. Hopefully she trusts us enough to be okay with keeping it (relatively) brief and mostly mentioning that we're okay and asking her to lay low for a little while until we can talk more properly.

>>928374
yis, dumb human brain go
>>
No. 928600 ID: 14e641

I still want to call her....just to tell her he's okay and to be careful. Though talking to Kel and the girls is probably a good idea, just to see what they did.
Even if je geels to impatient just have some caution about how you say things.

Pascal is sweet, but old and doing his best. We can talk to him later, make sure he knows we appreciate him trying.

Also, how's the undead boner meter going?
>>
No. 928709 ID: 270774
File 155443712915.png - (123.92KB , 800x525 , 435.png )
928709

“I don’t know.” Ricardo leans against the door. Two humans emerge from a room a few spots down the hall, chatting and laughing, and Ricardo waits until they’ve passed out of earshot before speaking again. “I don’t know. I have to tell her I’m alive. I owe her that. But—”

He reaches out, hesitantly, and takes the keycard. “I need to — get myself together first. Think it through.” A pause. “Maybe I will take that bath. Clear my head.”

“Ah, yes, well — if you are determined to do this, then yes, I think it will be better if you are calm.” Pascal hovers at the doorway as Ricardo unlocks it. “Euhhh — you are still wanting privacy, or…?”

“Oh.” Ricardo pauses, too, and now they’re both standing half-in and half-out of the room. “No, it’s… fine. Might be good to talk about it.”
>>
No. 928710 ID: 270774
File 155443715162.png - (126.92KB , 800x525 , 436.png )
928710

The room is nicer than Ricardo anticipated, though he doesn’t have much experience with luxury resorts. Maybe all the rooms in the hotel are like this. There’s only one queen bed — thanks, Kel — and a wall-to-wall window, with their bags already lined up against one wall, and when they turn a corner to look at the bathroom Pascal lets out a shriek of delight at the oversized tub. Ricardo leans over to peer into it and sees jacuzzi jets set into the side. It won’t be an uncomfortable stay, at least.
>>
No. 928711 ID: 270774
File 155443718740.png - (94.42KB , 800x525 , 437.png )
928711

Pascal’s already started running the bath and is sitting on the side of the tub, curiously sniffing each of the tiny bottles in turn and each time deciding to squeeze a healthy dollop into the running water. Ricardo can at least strip without thinking about it, after the road trip, though he looks curiously over at Pascal once he’s finished. “Not getting in?”

“Oh, no.” Pascal is playing with the flip cap of the complimentary shampoo. “What if then you do decide to have your privacy, and then I will have to leave the room with wet hair, and I will look so terrible! No, I will just wait. I can bathe when you are having your audience with Kel.”
>>
No. 928712 ID: 270774
File 155443721848.png - (115.92KB , 800x525 , 438.png )
928712

“Suit yourself.” Ricardo steps over the edge and sinks into the water, and he has to admit it helps immediately, a good chunk of his overactive thoughts quieting and blurring as simple comfort overrides them. Warmth is easy to process. Pascal leans over and touches his hair, lightly, urging him to sink down far enough to wet it before coming back up again.

“There, see.” Pascal seems pretty pleased with himself for having come up with the idea to begin with. “Doesn’t that feel better?”

“Physically, I guess.” Eugh. Feelings talk. Ricardo is kind of hoping if he stays quiet, Pascal will just fill in the empty space with easy chatter, but — he also wants to talk, strangely, and it’s frustrating to have no idea what to say. “The rest of it is still… you know.”

“I don’t know,” Pascal reminds him softly. He starts working a little shampoo into Ricardo’s hair, and Ricardo’s first instinct is to push him off and tell him he doesn’t have to do that, but — it feels good. He lets it go. “I, euhh… you know, one thing I do remember about my mother is that she dressed very well.” His fingers work gently against Ricardo’s skull, slow and aimless. “I remember sitting on the floor when I was very little, almost wrapped in her skirts, and being admiring the, euuuhh — the embroidery, on the fabric. Silk and brocade, all with flowers and things. My father was a merchant, so he could bring her all of the latest fashions, from the rest of the continent, and even fabric and jewelry from Asia.”

It’s funny, that only a week ago Ricardo found his voice reedy and annoying — now, it at least has enough familiarity that there’s something almost reassuring about it. Because he talks so much, Ricardo reminds himself. He talks so damn much that I’ve just gotten used to it.

“This was all I wanted, too.” Pascal dips his hands in the water to wash the suds off, and then coaxes Ricardo to rinse his hair. When he emerges again, Pascal starts on his shoulders, an absentminded massage that again Ricardo can’t quite bring himself to reject. “Well, euhh… it was the same thing almost every man in my time was wanting, I think. Simple, but still a little greedy. To have a pretty, clever wife, and to take my father’s successful trade— to bring her home beautiful things.” He laughs, running his thumbs down the line of Ricardo’s spine. “To have a dozen healthy children!”

Ricardo snorts, in spite of himself. “A dozen is a bit much.”

Pascal leans in, lowering his voice conspiratorially. “This is not nice to say, but you must have a dozen, because this way by the time it is fifteen years later, maybe six of them will still survive.”

“Jesus—”

“Well.” Pascal leans back again, eyes lidding slightly. “I can make nasty cruel jokes about this because I never did it. I never had that pain. And now I have died, and I cannot.”
>>
No. 928713 ID: 270774
File 155443723219.png - (88.10KB , 800x525 , 439.png )
928713

Ricardo looks down at the water, where clusters of bubbles are pushed by miniature currents. Pascal’s hands slide below the surface, only briefly, to rub soothing pressure against his still-aching ribs. “When you are dead, then you have to change what you want,” Pascal says. “You cannot have what a living man has.”

Ricardo closes his eyes. He doesn’t know what he wants — he can’t even think of anything he wanted when he was alive. It’s easier to just listen to Pascal talk. “So what do you want, now?”

Pascal withdraws his hands and smooths warm water over Ricardo’s shoulders. “I want to go home,” he says, simply. “But when I know I will be welcomed back.” His fingers dig gently into a tense spot at the back of Ricardo’s neck. “And until then, I want only to drink and make merry. I want to feed well, and I want to listen to nice music. I want to sleep as much as I like, and I want no one to bother me. I want to masturbate! Ehehe. And to read books I already know I like, again and again.” He pauses, eyes lidding further, until when Ricardo looks up at him they’re just two dark crescents of lashes. “To want anything more difficult than this makes me feel so tired.”
>>
No. 928716 ID: 7011e0

mmm... what do we want, ricardo? we only focused on killing pascal and now training with kel to deal with the cradle but... let's think of some small happy things we would like.
>>
No. 928717 ID: 2e6ab6

Uhhhhhhhhh maybe don't respond too much for now and just listen until your brain clicks and you can talk better? Just... Let your brain sort through things while you listen to Pascal?
>>
No. 928718 ID: b54723

Pascal is showing us his heart, and I think we should react positively to that. also im sobbing. maybe a tear falls out of your eye in awe or something.
>>
No. 928719 ID: c77835

ask pascal to talk about his favourite books, get some of that mindless chatter going. He probably likes bodice rippers or something.
>>
No. 928720 ID: b3453c

God Pascal is relatable.

Thank him for coming along instead of sticking with the easy stuff. Not that it's not his responsibility, but it's still appreciated.

And yeah, think about what you'd like to do. Any goals to carry you after the whole thing with the Cradle is over? Maybe you should get back into music.
>>
No. 928721 ID: 70df1e

share with pascal your own goals and likes? things you cant have anymore and things you can, things that are new that you enjoy?

also longterm plan here guys but listen. hear me out. the cradle sucks but if pascal wants the house we should get strong enough to beat up every bathory and just give him the entire house. but no bathorys allowed ok
>>
No. 928727 ID: 7e9c89

...finding a goal that isn't, well, killing pascal, and getting to a place where we can call our mom, has 2 be priority. small things, maybe - we can use teaching pascal tech as an excuse to find games or something that makes you happy? but, thanking pascal for telling us what he *does* remember would be good
>>
No. 928729 ID: d63bc0

god i dont have anythign to suggest im just so overwhelmingly gay for pascal its overriding my synapses
>>
No. 928730 ID: 51d10f

Even if you don't have any big goals in (un)life you know right now, figuring out what you like can be a step in figuring out what you want. Think about if you have any hobbies, or if not, if you previously have had any hobbies? You used to play the violin, right? Did that make you happy? Even if you don't end up wanting to like, play music as a vampire career or whatever, if you liked playing the violin, it might be worth it to try getting a violin and picking up playing again. That could be a good 'starter' goal to have. (Actually, do you know where the old violin your mom got you ended up? Would she have it?)
>>
No. 928733 ID: 23dc9d

It is good to try to find something possibly you'd like that you can talk about, even if its small. Despite Pascal's obvious issues he is showing, the way he talks of small things he would like to do would make it easier for you to think about that too. I am also curious about what books he likes though
>>
No. 928741 ID: c8452a

There's so many things to want and no reason to limit yourself. You're allowed to be greedy, you have thousands of years.

You want your mom to live the rest of her life happy and safe. You want that for yourself, too.
You could want to prove your strength so that nobody wants to fuck with you, and have the strength to back that up. You could want to use that strength to give Pascal what he wants, and to keep him safe once he gets it, or better yet convincing him that he shouldn't want it.

Once you have everything out in the open you can decide which you can work towards.
>>
No. 928751 ID: 14e641

That sounds pretty damn good.
>>
No. 928761 ID: b463f2

this is, so tender and sweet..... maybe, Ricardo, you want more times like this - time to relax, and be taken care of, and just, let go of worries and fears.

and maybe, you can also figure out a way to have Andy taken care of, for the rest of her life - and maybe, once you've made contact, to give her the option to be a vampire, for her to make that decision on her own, with full knowledge of the consequences. No matter which way she decides, it sounds cathartic to give someone else that decision, and especially when it's someone genuinely close to you.

I also think finding either the or a violin would be good, too - finding more ways to have beauty, joy, and peace in your life - both you and Pascal enjoy music, and it would be nice to bring that into the fold more often.
>>
No. 928771 ID: bb78f2

>>928713
How contemplative are you about this existence, Pascal?

You may not remember your mother, but do you remember thinking about her in your earlier days as a vampire? Did you mourn the idea of her passing when you thought it eventually occurred? I'm almost tempted to ask about the stable boy, it sound like Pascal eventually turned him, or asked him to be turned from the dream, but that wouldn't be right.

You know, when you reflect about it, the most important person in your life must have been your Mom, Ricardo. Most people have to accept the idea that sometime in their future that they will have to live at least a few decades without their parents around, but a vampire has to live centuries, millenia without them.

Even though you said you'd never turn anyone... thinking about turning at least her must be tempting. But you'd be a Momma's Boy for eternity then. You could never let her go, never grow up. It's a tragic thought. I think Pascal went through these feelings in regards to that stable boy that crushed his heart later. It might be a lesson.
>>
No. 928787 ID: 04b998

>>928713
I think its okay for us to tell him we don't know what we want. For all of our undead life we've been looking for him, we all know how that went.

Right now, all I want is a warm bath, and a gentle hand in my hair (is that too sappy?)

For real though this scene is so soft and is the biggest mood.
>>
No. 928792 ID: b54723

Just bask in Pascal's beauty...ask Pascal his fave drinks maybe...that would be cool perhaps. It would be nice and tender. Maybe if he likes wine we can ask him his fave type of wine.
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No. 928813 ID: 4675d0

Ricardo should bond with pascal by emphasizing the message "maybe we can find what we really cant when we find some peace." Pascal has been surviving and making the best out of his freedom from the coven. And that's admirable, strong, brave. Hes a survivor and has been kept in arrested development for centuries. Hes spoiled and bratty, because hes not an adult yet. So why not act like a child?
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No. 928822 ID: 4675d0

Will talking to Ricardos mom make him stronger or damage him for training? Like he should weigh things out. Shes protected. Maybe a letter is best? Maybe a quick check in phone call. You know when he hears her voice hes going to break. Then what? "Mama I'm okay. Super okay. But my boyfriend, who killed me and made me undead, his family is trying to kill us and I'll protect him till I die."
A Latina mama will not just sit by for that.
>>
No. 928839 ID: 23dc9d

>>928822

Yeah the idea is that we DONT tell her everything, especially that we were killed by a white boy. No need to add another person who would want to kill Pascal. But we can at least tell her that her son is still around and, by all definitions "okay"
>>
No. 928870 ID: f71363

Compromise: call the people watching her and check in with them to make sure she's safe. She can learn we're alive and maybe choose to be turned AFTER we deal with the fact that yknow, the cradle is trying to kill us.

Also, we want to protect and care for people we love. Get even better at the violin. Get some ducks? Play violin to the ducks? Idk man immortality is terrifying
>>
No. 928873 ID: 328640

how long did it take pascal to figure his own undeathly wants out?
>>
No. 928875 ID: 3eb4a2

Being a vampire just sounds more depressing everyday...but...maybe talk about stuff you can do together while you're in Vegas? Or even afterwards? Some positives to make you both feel better :>
>>
No. 928917 ID: 270774
File 155462316434.png - (89.83KB , 800x525 , 440.png )
928917

“Yeah, well.” Ricardo tilts his head back, eyes up to meet Pascal’s lowered profile. “Thanks. For coming along, I mean, instead of just… sticking with the easy stuff.”

“You did not very much give me a choice,” Pascal points out, scoffing.

“Mm.” Pascal has gone back to stroking his hair, and Ricardo closes his eyes again. “You could’ve ditched me, though. At any time, this past week.”

“You would only have hunted me again.” Ricardo feels Pascal moving, and then cold lips are pressing against his own, soft and closed. When Pascal moves away again, he doesn’t go far, his lips brushing against Ricardo’s skin with his next words. “Better the devil I know.”

Ricardo finds his hands in Pascal’s hair before he really knows what he’s doing, dripping water, sinking into the silky curls. He holds him there, bent over him, and Pascal doesn’t protest.
>>
No. 928918 ID: 270774
File 155462318186.png - (97.73KB , 800x525 , 441.png )
928918

“I don’t know what I want,” he admits. His voice is low. “Until now, I just wanted to find you. I wasn’t thinking about anything else. And before this I—”

You’re the kind of person who doesn’t make an impact on anybody’s life.

Ricardo’s throat dries up. Pascal is finally starting to pull away, though in that sneaky, clumsily tactful way if someone trying to do so discreetly — maybe this is too much. He lets him go and leans back, trying to rearrange his voice into something less conflicted.

“I want to not get killed by the Cradle, how about that,” he says, and the tension breaks, Pascal smiling at him again. “And I would prefer if my mother wasn’t killed by the Cradle, either.” A brief pause. “You, either.”

Pascal sighs lightly, toying with the surface of the water with the tips of his fingers. “Well, that is why we are stalling, I think.”

Ricardo thinks the solution is just for Pascal to not go back at all, but — well. Maybe that’s a goal for another day. Bringing it up now seems like a bad move.

“That’s why I’m training,” Ricardo counters — and that seems like a fine substitute, firm without being too combative — before sinking back down further into the water. “But you know what? Right now, all I want is a warm bath.” Pascal laughs again, genuinely, and Ricardo feels emboldened. “And your hand in my hair again.”

“Well! See how skilled you are, Ricardo!” Pascal humors him immediately, fingers carding smooth and gentle through Ricardo’s hair. “Already you are achieving all your dreams.”
>>
No. 928919 ID: 270774
File 155462319621.png - (170.76KB , 800x525 , 442.png )
928919

It’s not much later that Ricardo feels about as relaxed as he thinks he’s capable of, and Pascal leaves him to drain the bath and get dressed. When he emerges from the bathroom, Pascal looks up from a piece of stationary on the desk, clasping his hands loosely behind his back. “You are looking like you are better.”

“I feel better,” says Ricardo, and it’s the truth. It’s hard to stay steady when he knows what he has to do next, but he’d rather not think of how things would have gone if he’d tried without grounding himself like this first.

Pascal’s still standing a little distance away, swaying on the spot. “You would like me to leave, now? To me, it sounded that you were determined to speak with her.”

“I — yeah.” Ricardo’s already retrieved his phone from the pants he was wearing before, and he turns it over in his hands, mindlessly. “But thank you. For helping me get my head back on straight. Gave me a chance to be more sure this is what I want to do.”

“Well, of course, Ricardo.” Now he does approach, slowly, hands still behind his back. “I tell you already, if anything, I at least feel obligated to care for you.”

Ricardo doesn’t know what to say to that, so he just reaches out and ruffles Pascal’s hair. Pascal seems to like it, at least, and when Ricardo lets his arm drop to his side again Pascal turns for the door.

“As we said, you can tell me when you are going to see Kel, and I can return. For now I will just go and have a look around, I think.” He pauses with his hand on the doorknob, glancing over his shoulder. “I hope this gives you what you want.”
>>
No. 928920 ID: 270774
Audio - (2.79MB - 192 kbps - 44.1 kHz ) Length: 2:02
928920

forever - j’san
>>
No. 928921 ID: 270774
File 155462322095.png - (158.06KB , 800x525 , 443.png )
928921

The door closes quietly behind him, and Ricardo sits down on the edge of the bed, phone in hand. He takes a deep, unsteady breath.

This is a phone he bought after he died. The only contacts saved in it are ones from the past week. But he still has his mother’s number memorized, even after all this.
>>
No. 928922 ID: 270774
File 155462324304.png - (81.55KB , 800x525 , 444.png )
928922

The line connects after two rings. Ricardo holds his breath — it feels the same as when he isn’t. “Castro speaking.”

Time seems to stop. It resumes, shuddering and jilting, when she speaks again. “Hello? Who is this?”

“Sorry,” Ricardo blurts, and the line goes silent. Shit. He swallows, and then switches to Portuguese. The syllables are heavy on his tongue, a little unfamiliar from years of disuse, but it could never leave him entirely. “Hey, mãe. It’s me.”

His mother makes a noise, over the phone, that Ricardo’s never heard before. It’s something strained and taut and disbelieving, and it sounds fragile in a way that he can’t reconcile with his memories of her, vivid as they are. He starts talking again, stumbling over himself, as if he could drown it out. “It’s me, I swear. This isn’t — it’s not a — I don’t know. It’s me.”

“Oh, Jesus.” This is less like his mother’s voice than Rack’s imitation, and yet he knows it’s real, ten times more real than anything that happened downstairs — a hundred times, a thousand. Her voice shakes and wraps and he would recognize it even if it were worse than this. “Oh, god — Ricardo? Where are you?”

“I can’t tell you that, mãe.” Ricardo feels like his chest is collapsing. There’s a sharp pain, there, worse than anything that he’s felt since he died. He presses his forehead into his hand. “I’m sorry. I can’t, but I just — I wanted you to know that — I’m okay.”

His mother inhales, slow and labored. He hears another noise and realizes, with horror, that this is the first time he’s ever heard his mother cry.

“Where are you?” she demands again. Even through tears, she’s managing to sound firm and commanding. “Come home. Come home. Or — no—” Ricardo hears, faintly in the background, the sound of a chair scraping. “I’ll come get you. All you have to do is tell me where you are, Ricardo, I’ll get a flight.”

“I can’t. I can’t right now.” Ricardo’s throat is tightening again, his eyes hurt, and suddenly he realizes that he’s crying, too. He doesn’t know when it started. There are more important things. “I can’t come home. I can’t tell you what’s happening. When I can, I will, but I don’t know when that’ll be.”

“Ricardo,” his mother says again, in a tone he doesn’t understand, and he pushes past it.

“I love you,” he says. “Mãe, I love you. I just really wanted to say that.” He has to stop, for a second. It’s hard, he realizes, to talk and cry at the same time. He can’t remember the last time he tried. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you anything.”

“Jesus, Ricardo, I don’t care,” she bursts out. He hears her sniffling, hears rustling as she switches the phone to her other ear. “Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter. I love you so much — god, my boy, you’re alive—”

Not really. There’s a little lump sitting in the pit of Ricardo’s stomach, but he ignores it. “Yeah. I’m okay. And I’m—” He lies, a little. He thinks it’s justified. “I’m safe. Things are just complicated.”

“Well, for fuck’s sake, Ricardo, I would hope it’s fucking complicated,” says his mother, and Ricardo laughs, a strange ragged sound that shares the same breath as a sob, and she does too. It’s the strangest thing he’s ever experienced, but none of this is normal. She’s still laughing when she speaks again. “It better be fucking complicated, for what you put me through—”

“I’m sorry,” Ricardo says again, and he means it so much he aches, even when he’s still weakly chuckling. “I’m sorry.”

He hears her inhale, then exhale again, slow and unsteady. She’s centering herself. Her voice still shakes, but she sounds more like herself. “Alright. You can’t tell me where you are. You can’t tell me what you’ve been doing. You can’t tell me why you disappeared, or when you’ll be home.” Another deep breath. “What the hell can you tell me? Give me something.
>>
No. 928923 ID: 9fcd43

Tell her you've met a nice guy, and some possible friends who seem reliable that are helping you out. Tell her it's been a rough few years, but it looks like things might be starting to get better, in a lot of ways.

And ask how she's doing, too. I mean obviously not great, but you've got to ask.
>>
No. 928924 ID: 4328b4

Tell her you’re pulling your shit together, and you’ve been alone a long time but you’ve got someone helping you now, he’s an asshole but not a bad guy. Tell her you love her and miss her.
>>
No. 928925 ID: 7011e0

oh /lord/ i'm tearing up a bit haha. well... we can tell her we're doing better. we got our head back on our damn shoulders well enough we realized we should call her. it's all very complicated but i just... really want andy to know we're doing okay, and we're going to /stay/ okay, so we can come back to her safe and sound. just... man this is gonna be a rocky conversation to navigate
>>
No. 928927 ID: 4675d0

Tell her you love her and will explain things later in time. But you’re safe and okay and never meant to leave her. You were in an accident and lost track of time due to your need for revenge. But youre a Castro. You’ll give only as good as you got and you’ll cut out. *cut to Ricardo thinking of dying twice and motivation for training hard*
>>
No. 928928 ID: 2791fd

it breaks my heart but we really can't tell her a single thing
>>
No. 928929 ID: de8aa6

well she deserves at least some form of the truth. even if it means she'll worry about you she's thought you were dead for what? years??
there are people after you that could be after her too and that's why you can't go back home. tell her about the vampire stuff later. idk even if it's not exactly that! lying to her feels so bad >>;
>>
No. 928930 ID: 2e6ab6

Tell her you met a cute guy, and have been on the road with him for a while. He's a bit of an ass, and a little bit of a brat, but you think he's decent at his core. You're staying with some of his friends for a while and they're helping you out. It's been a really crazy few years, but things are at least starting to get a little bit better. It's still complicated, but you're okay.
And then ask her how she's doing. What she's been up to. Try to just... Have a conversation.
>>
No. 928932 ID: f8b2a3

if you tell her the whole truth it's going to be. uh. bad! she might think someone's prank calling her pretending to be you.

like. maybe tell her some people are after you, you don't want them to go after her, and that's why you've been in hiding. that's the best i think you can do without outright lying to your mom.
>>
No. 928933 ID: e69ae1

i have nothing constructive to add please jst tell her you love her more
>>
No. 928935 ID: c8452a

>>928929
Yeah. She needs to know the truth, just a bit. Don't lie, even if it's not the whole truth.
You could also mention that a lot of the time you were gone you spent tracking this guy, and it turned out to be more complicated than you thought. And maybe if she asks, you could talk about Pascal. And Kel! She'd fucking love Kel.
>>
No. 928936 ID: d7f01b

>>928932

this this this. say that some people are after you and it's not safe for you to come home right now, but you're in a safe place with friends who are going to help you handle it.
>>
No. 928937 ID: 0c2325

god i extremely want to be sappy. um. twll her a little abt pascal, and tht youre trying to figure out what you want? so she knows youre trying
>>
No. 928938 ID: 857953

LET HER KNOW YOU LOVE HER... and at LEAST let her know yr not completely alone in this!! She'll still worry of course, but it might give her a little peace
>>
No. 928939 ID: fde9cb

i was against calling Mom but that was so beautiful i've been won over.

i do think we should tell her at least *some* information, but not that we have people after us. we don't want to scare her. maybe just say that we were in a weird incident, and we've spent the last 5 years trying to sort it out. and it's been rough, so rough that everything else kind of got put on hold - hence disappearing and not calling. but we're in a better situation now and we've got some new friends helping us and hopefully things will get a little more normal soon.

I don't think we should mention that we're involved with anyone though. we don't want to make it sound like we abandoned her to elope with Pascal or anything
>>
No. 928952 ID: e38f16

>>928922
oof that's a rough question mom.

i think we should tell her we got into so trouble and that we've been sorting it out. and tell her that we have people who are helping us sort it out. don't mention any romance, or that people are after us though.

tell her to stay safe and that we love her.
>>
No. 928954 ID: aedfd9

Do NOT say "I've met a nice guy" in a cute euphemism way, I don't think this is the time for jokes when she's so shaky and scared for us. Say you've made a friend (friends?), and they're in trouble and they're counting on you, and you're counting on them too. And a lot of things are frightening and kind weird, but you're doing the best you can. And you miss her. And you're gonna see her again.
>>
No. 928957 ID: b463f2

>>928954
Yeah, agree with this and other comments along the same line - I don't think we should tell her we've ~met a guy~, but do let her know we're not alone.

We've already told her we're safe, and that's definitely not true..... unsure if we want to contradict that, but. I think at least we should let her know there's some really complicated situations that we're dealing with, where nothing's really clear cut.

Ask how she is. Ask what she's been doing lately, and what kind of emotional support she has.

Tell her you love her, so much, and that not seeing her was one of the hardest parts of these last 5 years, and that you think of her often, pretty much every day if that's true.
>>
No. 928965 ID: 0f15ab

Yeah if Andy thinks we’ve been gone because we eloped she’ll kill us with her bare hands
>>
No. 928966 ID: d69a6a

>>928927
i second this
and definitely tell her you're not alone, and that you have some good people on your side, but everything is a big hot mess right now, and you're taking her advice that you should've taken when you were younger
>>
No. 928967 ID: bb78f2

>>928922
I got hurt, really bad. Bad enough I couldn't come home for a while. That will make more sense with context. And it could be years before I can give you that context safetly, or even see you again. People want to kill me, and are probably watching you to see if I try to contact you. I think this phone call is safe enough, I just can't come to you in person.

Best similar case scenario I can describe is that I was a witness to a crime. It's not exactly what happened but I really can only elaborate in person. I've had to do terrible things to survive, and must continue to do so. That isn't an excuse, I literally mean I must do terrible things or I will die, no ifs, ands or buts. And I mean the correct definition of literally.
>>
No. 928968 ID: 411454

tell her that you have friends and people who care for you, and that things are dangerous right now but the people on your side are tough as hell and you're going to make it out. tell her there's someone you'd like her to meet when this is all over
>>
No. 928973 ID: 261d0d

"I love you. I - I got into, I got into trouble, and I can't come home or it will follow me to you. I can't do that to you, mãe, I just can't. But I'm not alone, I met people that can help me through it. Do you .. do you have people that can help you through it?"
>>
No. 928987 ID: b1b4f3

>>928922
Alright, tell her you found a new boyfriend.
Don't tell her that people are trying to kill you, that'll just make her worry.
>>
No. 929013 ID: 14e641

Hm, let her know you're learning a lot, meeting a lot of people, making some friends.
Ask her how's she been. Its veen a while, might be the only time in a while you get to check in on her.
>>
No. 929023 ID: 094652

"Mae, you remember that thicc girl who visited you and asked questions about me?

She beat me to the floor and bullied me for being a momma's boy. Then I wrapped my jacket around her face and punched her until her skull caved in. She says she'll want a rematch when her nose is no longer in her brain.

Next week. The doctor says she'll make a full recovery from a shattered skull by next week.

Mae, these people are insane. They're like, mad scientists with holographic disguises and healing nanomachines, and somehow they all think tearing people's throats out with their bare jaws is the pinnacle of modern warfare. I'm supposed to join them by the end of the month.

These past five years I wanted to kill them for experimenting on me, making me kill other people to survive. Of course, it turns out that this is just one cell out of thousands and they're funded by world governments. So no, I can't leave or they'll go to your house and tie you to a bomb. Or just feed you to the dogs.

I... I don't know what else to do.

... I @#$%ed the one who personally injected me with steroids. Multiple times. Am I evil now?"
>>
No. 929029 ID: c1212a

Explain you're safe where you're at, you're with some people you trust, and it's going to stay that way for a while. It's just there's some trouble that isn't your fault, but is your responsibility, and part of that is keeping it from getting near her. You're sorry you went dark for so long, and you'll do better at staying in contact in the future.
>>
No. 929045 ID: 15ee9e

>>928967
this except with a lot less emphasis on the danger we are currently in; we got hurt BAD. we are recovering but it's a slow and painful process. we have new friends who are helping us get back on our feet. definitely dont even allude to romance.
also no telling her that we have to kill ppl to survive. we can't let her know about vampires yet for her own safety.
is there anything on the paper pascal was fiddling with ? he was acting a bit odd as he left.
>>
No. 929046 ID: b1b4f3

It occurs to me that she might get the idea to hire a P.I. to track down Ricardo now that she knows he's alive(well, not really but). He should not say anything to encourage that.
>>
No. 929158 ID: aa0b07

Not a suggestion for what to say, but I really think Ricardo should destroy his phone after this call and get a new one with a new number. Who knows if authorities or vampires are going to try to track him.
>>
No. 929159 ID: c8452a

>>929158
This is already a new phone. It's like five days old.
>>
No. 929193 ID: 26262d

We should call Bunji and tell him that maybe we could go get a drink together one of these days ?
>>
No. 929222 ID: b463f2

>>929159
I think they meant, after having called her from this phone? But also, I believe it was Pascal's phone that was relatively new, and that Ricardo's is from some time closer to after his turning.
>>
No. 929316 ID: 2791fd

>>928954
this sounds good
>>
No. 929527 ID: 270774
File 155510346452.png - (90.12KB , 800x525 , 445.png )
929527

Ricardo settles a little on the bed and takes a few unsteady breaths. His mother waits, more patiently than he would have thought to ask for.

“I can tell you that I’m not alone,” he says, and he hears her sigh in relief. “I, uh. I met somebody. So—”

“You what,” says Andy.

“Uh—”

“It had better be more complicated than that, Ricardo,” she says, and it sounds like her teeth are clenched. “Ricardo, five years, if that’s all this was—”

“No, no, no, mãe, that’s not — no, that’s not what I meant — not, not like that. I met somebody and he’s — he introduced me to a bunch of other people, and. I don’t know them very well yet but they… they seem solid, I guess, and. They’re helping me.” He swallows. “I was alone, for a long time, and now I’m not, and it feels like things are getting better. Or at least if they don’t, there are people who have my back.”

Andy quiets down, seemingly satisfied with that correction, and Ricardo wets his lips before speaking again. “Uh. What about you, mãe?”

“What about me.”

“Do you — do you have anybody. Do people have your back. I mean, you’re not — alone, right. How are you …” God. Christ. “How are you doing?”

She’s quiet — so quiet that he almost asks if she’s still there — but she speaks before he can. “I have my work.”

Ricardo exhales hard through his nose. “That’s not what I mean. That doesn’t count.”

She makes an exasperated little noise — he can almost see her hand on her hip. “Well. The women in the building have all been nuisances. They won’t stop cooking for me, as if I can’t cook for myself—”

“You can’t, mãe,” Ricardo reminds her.

“And—” A beat of hesitation. “Your father has been calling. And visiting, when he can.”
>>
No. 929528 ID: 270774
File 155510348171.png - (104.84KB , 800x525 , 446.png )
929528

Ricardo presses his lips together. “Great. Good to hear.”

“Ricardo.”

“No, it’s good. I’m glad.” Ricardo picks at a thread on the voluminous white comforter, just for a split second before giving up on it. “Shame that this is what it took, but —”

“Ricardo,” his mother says again, her voice quiet but stern. Ricardo shuts up. “He is your father. He’s been as devastated by this as anyone.”

“Cool,” says Ricardo.

“Attitude,” his mother snaps, and there’s something about that little burst of tension in the middle of everything that’s — comforting, somehow, in its normalcy. He shuts up again and she relaxes. “He would want to know,” she tells him.

Ricardo pulls the phone away from his ear for a second, to inhale and roll his neck back and glare at the wall, before returning to the conversation. “Do you think he could keep his mouth shut about it?”

He hears Andy sucking her teeth. “No,” she admits, finally.

“Then no. It’s not safe.” He can sense her gearing up to argue, and he cuts in. “I’m not saying that out of — spite, or resentment, or anything like that. I mean it. You’re the only person I can tell, and even that is — listen, the reason I’m not coming home is I don’t want any of this following me to you.”

“But what would follow you — no, I know. You probably can’t tell me.”

“I can’t,” Ricardo confirms. “It’s — listen, I can say this. It’s… you could call it an accident, I guess, you could call it — me getting hurt, and I’m okay now, but I got — I got so caught up in fixing it that I lost sight of stuff. I thought getting to the bottom of this whole thing was the only thing I could do, and — that’s why I never contacted you, while I was trying, and I’m sorry.” He takes a second to push his hair off his forehead, trying to think of how else to put this, without making it sound… well. Alarming. “I’m finishing something I started.”

Andy considers that for a long moment. “No more, no less,” she says, softly.

“Yeah. Yeah.” Ricardo leans forward, elbow on his knee. “And then I’ll walk away.”
>>
No. 929529 ID: 270774
File 155510349863.png - (84.60KB , 800x525 , 447.png )
929529

“Until then I need you to lay low,” Ricardo says. “Stay in L.A., don’t talk to anybody suspicious. I don’t want you doing anything out of the ordinary.”

“Ricardo,” says his mother, and her voice is low and stern. “Do you have any idea how impossible it is to ask that of me?”

“I know, mãe—”

“You don’t,” she interrupts. “You don’t understand. Until you have children of your own, you won’t.”

Right. Children, which he is definitely going to have. “It’s important,” he says, instead of touching that with a ten foot pole.

She sighs and deliberates. “Ricardo. I’ll agree to that, but only if you agree to keep calling me.”

“I don’t know how frequently I can—”

“It doesn’t have to be every day, Ricardo. I’m not asking for much. But I just have to know how you’re doing, in some way.” Her voice, which had been strengthening, is tumbling back into a kind of weakness that doesn’t suit her. “It was the uncertainty that was killing me. I can’t take that again. I have to know. Even if you can’t really tell me anything — and even if you can only tell me bad news. Even if you can only tell me that things are getting harder.”

Ricardo thinks. His number is private, and so is his mother’s; beyond that, if tracking his phone activity was an issue, Kel’s number is not, and he feels he can safely assume that if following him to who he calls was something that their pursuers were doing, it would have come to a nasty head by now. Infrequent calls, from this number only, are probably about as safe as it gets.

“Yeah,” he says, finally. “Yeah, I can do that. I don’t know how often, but. I will, I promise. I want to talk to you more, too.”

“Thank you.” He hears rustling, again — maybe she’s clutching the phone to her face. “That’s all I need.”
>>
No. 929530 ID: 270774
File 155510351409.png - (86.31KB , 800x525 , 448.png )
929530

“I probably have to go, mãe.” Ricardo stands up from the bed. “I have — the people I mentioned earlier, who are helping me, they’re waiting on me. We’re, uh. We’re getting stuff figured out.”

“Alright,” says his mother, though she’s clearly reluctant. A pause, and then her voice is a little sharper. “You know, that somebody you met.”

“Mainha,” Ricardo groans.

“I don’t ask much here either. I’m glad you aren’t alone, Ricardo, but I’ve always told you—”

“Mãe, I already said it’s not—”

“I don’t ask much! I have never asked for much. A nice man from a good family with a good job, is that unreasonable? Is that so much to ask, Ricardo?”
>>
No. 929531 ID: 270774
File 155510352908.png - (160.22KB , 800x525 , 449.png )
929531

“Ggghgh,” says Ricardo.
>>
No. 929532 ID: 270774
File 155510354264.png - (90.45KB , 800x525 , 450.png )
929532

“Listen,” he says, to deflect, and he can’t help laughing a little, as uncomfortable as he is. “You just found out I’m alive. Are we really having this conversation again, right now.”

There’s a beat. “I’m just glad that we can,” Andy says, and her voice breaks, suddenly. “I’m just so happy to nag you again, Ricardo.”

Shit. Shit. Ricardo feels himself welling up again, and he really, really does not have time for that. “I have to go, mãe,” he reminds her, gently. “I’ll call you again. I promise. But I gotta go.”

“Alright. Alright.” He hears her taking a deep breath, collecting herself. “Just — you’re eating well, right, Ricardo?”

Ricardo stares down at the geometric pattern of the rug until his eyes stop making sense of it. “Yeah. When I can.”

“I love you. So much.”

“I love you too.”
>>
No. 929533 ID: 270774
File 155510355955.png - (79.20KB , 800x525 , 451.png )
929533

When Ricardo hangs up he takes a long, long moment to get his head back in order. The relief he’s feeling is overwhelming, there’s no arguing that — there’s not a cell in his body that regrets making that call. There’s a peace, too, in knowing his mother is feeling that same relief, the same dissolution of long-held pain. But the sadness that comes with it is heavy and it drags his shoulders down so forcefully that he sits back down on the bed again, as if pushed, and he’s not sure how long it takes him to stand up again.

He does, eventually, and he wanders over to the desk. The paper Pascal was looking at is a letter, or a flyer of some kind — Ricardo picks it up and realizes it’s handwritten, in a script so immaculate it looks like a typeface. It’s heavy, expensive-feeling stationary, cream-colored, with a gold foil border around the edge. The bottom is weighted with a red wax seal pressed next to the closing signature of the letter, with the small, detailed design of a prancing bull.

Welcome to the Silver Crown Resort and Casino!

To our valued undead guests,
On the behalf of Ms. Donata Luciano, boss of the Las Vegas den and keeper of all related territories, please accept our warm welcome. We could not be more thrilled to provide your accommodations and entertainment during your stay in beautiful Las Vegas.

If you have not already negotiated the courtesy levy for your stay, please contact a member of hotel staff to be afforded an appointment with one of Ms. Luciano’s aides. Please be advised that, unfortunately, failure to negotiate and fulfill a courtesy levy will necessitate your removal from den territory by any means necessary. Attempts to fraudulently evade payment of a courtesy levy will unfortunately necessitate disciplinary action up to and including your final death.

In the meantime, for the comfort and safety of all guests, please be advised of these ground rules that all vampires on premises must follow, regardless of whether your stay has yet been officially negotiated:

I. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It is our most dearly held hope that all who enjoy the hospitality of the Las Vegas den may do so in peace and privacy. Information on any undead who have confirmed their stay on den territory, and any actions they take while protected by our hospitality, must never be distributed without that person’s consent. Failure to comply will unfortunately necessitate disciplinary action up to and including your final death.

II. Everything in moderation. Human prey of the utmost health and quality is of course regularly booked into the hotel for your enjoyment, but our stringent standards mean that supply is limited. Please be courteous to other guests and limit your consumption to one human meal per week per guest in your party, and please feed discreetly so as not to alarm remaining prey. Feeding rooms are provided for your convenience, so it is not necessary to lure all prey back to your private rooms; these rooms are marked with “Staff Only” signage to dissuade human prey from entering, but additionally marked with a small red gem to differentiate from rooms that are truly off limits to guests. Failure to comply with moderation and discretion requests will unfortunately necessitate your removal from den territory, with no refund of paid courtesy levies.

III. Decorum and class. Please enjoy the company of your fellow guests. If you are incapable of doing so, hotel policy forbids murder, dismemberment, and the infliction of other serious injuries outside the context of formal duels. Please do not engage in formal duels in front of human prey, and when engaged in a duel, please engage in every effort to avoid damage to hotel property. Excessive damages may be added to your levy. If you murder a fellow guest within the parameters of a duel, please inform hotel staff as quickly as possible so that we may proceed with necessary cleanup. And please remember: rule I applies at all times. Failure to comply will unfortunately necessitate your removal from den territory, with no refund of paid courtesy levies, or in cases of extreme mayhem, disciplinary action up to and including your final death.

IV. Fair play only. To steal from the Silver Crown’s casino is to steal from Ms. Luciano, which would be ill-advised. While we have taken all reasonable anti-cheating measures, we know the ingenuity of our valued guests is vast; still, we ask you to play all games against the house without interference. Failure to comply will unfortunately necessitate disciplinary action up to and including your final death.

We thank you for abiding by these policies, and are eager to accommodate your every need. May your stay be one of endless enjoyment.

Ever at your service,
C.B., Secretary of Entertainment and Enforcement

>>
No. 929534 ID: 34f5bd

Aww that was good!!! Good job bud!! Call your mom at least once a week, maybe a new phone each time? I'm not sure how exactly phone tracking works and what would be more suspicious....

BUT HELL YEAH VEGAS RULES BAYBEEEE, this looks right up our alley. Snitches not welcome.

We should ask Kel and Pascal to make sure our rooms are paid for though. Wouldn't want to be caught trying to dodge our bill.
>>
No. 929535 ID: 7e9c89

that went rly well.. take another minute to settle down, and then we’d better go see kel huh. i don’t think any of those rules tell us anything important? except that maybe if we’re pursued and attacked they’d be on our side if we can trick our pursuers into breaking a rule.
>>
No. 929537 ID: 26262d

Fuck all these rules including the words "final death" they're annoying, (especially the first one)we already died once that shit won't happen again
>>
No. 929539 ID: ef1933

>>929533
oof, feeding once a week might be tough with the training regiment in mind. I'm sure Kel has thay in mind though.

Wait can vamps drink blood from outside a body? Can we swipe some capri-bluds from one of vegas's many reputable blood banks? That would be useful if we need to hone our shifting.
>>
No. 929540 ID: c1eaac

>>929537

i mean like it or not we're staying here and if we want to train with kel we gotta follow the rules. better to follow em then get perma-killed

anyway let's take a breather and go see kel
>>
No. 929563 ID: 7011e0

oh man no wonder kel wanted to train here. nobody can say we're here lmfao. keep the luciano name in mind and we'll have to talk to pascal and kel about that courtesy levy? kel may have dealt with it for us but i don't wanna assume and have it bite us in the ass later. also we should look into a burner phone for Mom Calls
>>
No. 929566 ID: b1b4f3

>>929533
Alright tell Pascal you're done.
The feeding frequency limit is important here. It means you can't go overboard during training. The girls may even see how much/long you can endure without feeding, which strikes me as important too.

Also it sounds like you're safe here even if you get found, so long as they can't formally duel you.
>>
No. 929583 ID: b463f2

ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, Ricardo. oh Ricardo.... oh Andy......

>“I’m finishing something I started.”

>Andy considers that for a long moment. “No more, no less,” she says, softly.

>“Yeah. Yeah.” Ricardo leans forward, elbow on his knee. “And then I’ll walk away.”

t h i s p a r t . . . just. so emotional. what a good bond. and such a good tie in to Ricardo's flashback during the duel with Rack. and Ricardo.... yr dislike of dad is Very Relatable. I'm excited to hear more about your dad so I can dislike him more fervently.

the, "good man, good family, good job" panel just, absolutely killed me. Andy's gonna HATE Pascal, I can't wait to see how they interact when they meet.....

I think we need some clarification about rule II - is that feeding in just the hotel, or in vegas in general? Because the way it begins, it sounds to me like it's just within the hotel - but, definitely something to ask Kel about, along with those monetary dues.

also.... I want to know who wrote the sheet. I want to see their writing implements, and their desk.
>>
No. 929584 ID: 9dd4cf

I feel like these rules are a bit "if you're not smart enough to work with/around/break and not get caught these you're not smart enough to live" in tone.

talk to pascal about them asap though, who knows what he could be unknowingly getting up to.

anyway that was hard and emotional. once pascal is found: initiate banging. break in the hotel room.
>>
No. 929587 ID: 14e641

Hmmm, i bet Pascal would have fun in the casino...
Anyways! That went very well! We should avoid regularity with our home calls. Don't want a pattern to arise. Maybe wait a week, then a few days, then a couple of weeks, nothing that could he tracked. We can't use hotel phones, or phone boxes...we also don't want to call from our current base. Maybe we should get one of those ping things that show us elsewhere.
>>
No. 929594 ID: 9fcd43

First things first, find Pascal and go see Kel. Ask what the levy's about and whether you need to take care of it - sounds like the kind of thing she would pay along with your room, but we don't want to assume. And I agree that we should ask for more info about feeding - it does sound like that just means once a week from the hotel supply, so I would assume hunting in the rest of Vegas is fine, but couldn't hurt to make sure.

Also noted that if we want to get Pascal to psychically hustle some games we're going to have to go to a different casino
>>
No. 929595 ID: 2791fd

definitely keep the feeding limit in mind. the girls will probably try to push you harder than you can take to see if you know your limits. you can't let them, or it'll be bad lol.

and get in touch about the levy, just to be safe
>>
No. 929599 ID: bd6360

>>929528
this made me emotional ugh

definitely check with kel that our room is taken care of, and we shouldn't keep her waiting much longer
>>
No. 929607 ID: c8452a

Oh boy, that call. Went better than I feared.

Okay, let's get moving. We need to find out about this levy. Also, it might be useful to clarify what the "one meal a week" means exactly. I got the impression it meant one meal inside the hotel a week, so maybe we can hit the streets for extra meals if necessary.
>>
No. 929612 ID: 094652

>A nice man from a good family with a good job, is that unreasonable?
... Okay seriously, is your dad a mercenary or something? At this point, my best guess is your mother is still in denial on some level.

>To our valued undead guests, generic superficial greetings, pay us a tip or we'll stab you until you leave, don't squeal on your blogs, one murder a week maximum, roughhousing inside is limited to Street Fighter rules, and only we get to cheat, love, CB.
Vegas. You can't win. You come there to lose things; your obedience, your rigidity, your constant self-loathing. And hopefully not something important like your life.

And now, there's like twenty families on vacation whose husbands and wives went missing. How do they get away with this again, and do I really want to know?

>What do
Important question: does Lamb seem like platonic life partner potential? Go talk to her.
>>
No. 929639 ID: b54723

Hey what if we asked about the witches (if there are any) and werewolves in the area. It would be nice to know so that when we inevitably hit the streets for a snack so we don't accidentally bite one of them.
>>
No. 929831 ID: 270774
File 155529758931.png - (89.60KB , 800x525 , 452.png )
929831

Ricardo folds the letter up and tucks it into the pocket of his sweatpants, then retrieves his phone.

TO: PASCAL Hey. You read the letter on the table right? The rules

Pascal, at least, seems to be getting the hang of the phone; his response times are getting faster, though his texts are no shorter.

FROM: PASCAL Dearest Ricardo, Yes, and I find them very much to our favor! If they can be enforced they are very ideal for us, I think. No-one can gossip that we are here, so we do not need to hide ourselves, and no-one can attack us outside of a duel, and we need not accept any duel terms if we think we will lose, and you cannot force someone to duel with you. But, Ricardo, I am still being careful, for many reasons! My first reason is that I am thinking the wording of these rules means the benefits are only for if you have paid your courtesy levies. Otherwise you are not a “guest” to them yet, and they can care less if you are protected by their hospitality! So still we should be careful. I do not know if Kel has paid our dues for us or not. My second reason is that the seal on this letter I recognize. This family is not of the Cradle, but their interests sometimes align with the House of Medici, who are of the Cradle, and right now I have been away from proper society too long, and I cannot tell you if their alliance is there now, because it used to be changing like the wind. The Medicis are not fond of my sire, but this is still risky. We must still be careful until we are sure, because if this family is currently aligned with the Medicis and thus the Cradle, perhaps they will ignore all these rules in loyalty to the order that I be returned. At any rate, these are my concerns, and I think that maybe this could be very good for us, but also we could perhaps very easily be ruined, which I suppose is what life is like at all times. Also I need to put my cosmetics again and so when you leave to see Kel I will take the room back! I saw a handsome man by the slot machines and I had to hide behind a plant so he will not see me as I am, looking terrible after a ride in a car and with my clothing wrinkled. We will have to fight for our privacy with Kel smashing us both into a single room like this as if we are PAUPERS so please make sure I will always have time to attend to my appearance! Your sire, Pascal Cosovei

Ricardo snorts softly as he reaches the bottom of the text, and replies quickly.

TO: PASCAL You can’t complain about the room when Kel set it up for us. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a nice room. I’ll ask Kel about the levy, I’m about to go see her anyway

TO: PASCAL So I’ll be out of the room and you can do whatever

FROM: PASCAL Dearest Ricardo, Well, thank goodness! I really look awful. You should have tell me this instead of letting me wander around without fixing myself. That’s your responsibility, you know, while we are traveling together. Your sire, Pascal Cosovei
>>
No. 929832 ID: 270774
File 155529760736.png - (72.71KB , 800x525 , 453.png )
929832

Ricardo tabs over to his text conversation with Kel as he leaves the room, keycard in hand, and shoots off a message.

TO: KEL What are courtesy levies and did you pay ours or are they still outstanding

The response is immediate, and as loud as ever.

FROM: KEL THAT’S ONE OF THE THINGS I WAS GOING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT. WHAT DID YOU THINK WE WERE GOING TO DISCUSS, DIPSHIT, THE WEATHER? SPEAKING OF WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU. I TOLD YOU TO TAKE A SHOWER NOT A SABBATICAL ---------- ~+*MOST VALUABLE RAIDER 804 AD - 1021 AD*+~ ..:: AINT NO BITCH LIKE A GALLOWGLASS BIIIITCH ::..

Ricardo sighs and starts walking a little faster, jabbing the elevator button with unnecessary violence when he reaches it.

TO: KEL Sorry. On my way. I had some things to deal with

FROM: KEL I’M THE THING YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH BITCH ---------- ~+*MOST VALUABLE RAIDER 804 AD - 1021 AD*+~ ..:: AINT NO BITCH LIKE A GALLOWGLASS BIIIITCH ::..

FROM: KEL DO YOU THINK THIS SHIT RUNS ON YOUR SCHEDULE. DO YOU THINK IT’S COMMON FOR ME TO STOOP TO TRAIN SOMEONE I HAVEN’T HAND SELECTED. DON’T START THINKING YOU’RE HOT SHIT BECAUSE YOU WON ONE BOUT ---------- ~+*MOST VALUABLE RAIDER 804 AD - 1021 AD*+~ ..:: AINT NO BITCH LIKE A GALLOWGLASS BIIIITCH ::..

Jesus.

TO: KEL Yeah sorry I said I’m on my way
>>
No. 929833 ID: 270774
File 155529762616.png - (130.50KB , 800x525 , 454.png )
929833

Kel’s set up an office in a hallway just around the corner from the training ballroom, and when Ricardo enters she’s seated at a broad mahogany desk. There’s a huge, worn book open in the center, looking like some kind of ledger or roster, but she closes it before he can get a better look. Mignon is standing at her shoulder, and she cranes her neck back to address her before looking at Ricardo.

“Thanks again, Basilia. You can leave. I’m sure the girls are getting into trouble by now.”

“I’m sure,” Mignon echoes. “Strip was already picking a fight with Rack over her loss.”

“Well, go calm ‘em down. They just need to blow off some steam, that’s all.” Kel waves her off, and she inclines her head once before leaving the room and closing the door softly behind her. Kel rests one arm on the polished surface of the desk, and she doesn’t bother hiding the irritation in her glance when she looks Ricardo up and down. “Ribeye. Sit.”

Ricardo does. Kel’s got a glass of some kind of golden liquid on her desk, with an empty glass beside it, and she drinks from it without offering Ricardo any. “Levies, Luciano, we can talk about all that in a second. First, I gotta give you the same once-over I give anyone.”

The glass is set down. “There’s this concept that the only humans who know about us are the ones who get clued in — the ones who are chosen to be turned, or the ones who are kept like pets. It’s not true.” She leans backward again. “If there’s one truth about humans, it’s that any source of power that exists, they’ll try to find and take for themselves. Nothing else in the world is more consistent than that.”

Kel taps the table, twice, softly. “I only turn women who hunt me down and ask for it. If they can’t learn that this is an option, if they can’t track me down, they won’t be of any use to me. I’ve got a caliber.”

Ricardo feels very confident that if he hadn’t been eaten in an alley he would have lived out his entire life without ever considering the existence of vampires. He’s not sure this bodes well.

“And when they find me,” Kel continues, “I ask them: what are you gonna do with it? Why do you want it? If I give you immortality, if I give you the kind of power humanity’s been dreaming of since its birth, what’s the point? What’s it going to be for, in your hands?” She reaches for the glass again, and this time drains it. “But I can’t ask you that, can I? You never asked to be turned. There’s no ‘Why do you want to be a vampire, Ribeye?’ Because your answer is that you don’t.”

Ricardo doesn’t say anything. She isn’t wrong.

“So instead I’m gonna ask you this.” Kel bends down for a moment, and when she straightens up again she’s refilling her drink from a heavy glass jug. “Now that you’re a vampire, what are you gonna do about it? You’re immortal, you’ve got the kind of power people have killed and died for for all time, and you don’t even want it. What’s the point of you sticking around, if you didn’t want things to end like this?” Her eyes flick up again, glowing crimson. “Why don’t you just die, huh?”
>>
No. 929834 ID: 270774
File 155529763834.png - (116.16KB , 800x525 , 455.png )
929834

Great. This again.

Unlike in his conversation with Pascal, Ricardo has a feeling “I don’t know” isn’t an answer that will go over well. Nor “I just want to take a bath,” for that matter.

He swallows, dryly, and tries to muster some ambition.
>>
No. 929836 ID: 02e2dc

be gay do crimes

serious answer: uh... i don't think ricardo has any real ambitions to become a super powerful vampire, but we probably want to live without cradle weirdoes breathing down our necks 24/7. so.. maybe our goal is to destabilize count whats-his-name?
>>
No. 929838 ID: 7e9c89

you want to be strong enough to protect yourself and not live on the run, i’d think?
>>
No. 929839 ID: c1eaac

i mean, staying alive out of spite and sheer will has worked this far, and luckily ricardo now has a Lot of spite against the cradle. let's say...we want to destabilize the cradle so pascal can get a chance at a happy life, and so ricardo might get to live that happy life with him.
>>
No. 929841 ID: 7011e0

hmm! well right now our current goal is to tell the cradle to go fuck themselves but kel knows about that, i guess. i suppose we just want to be left alone. we don't want to start any big shit, don't want to be some warlord or whatever, we just wanna make a space for ourselves. or something like that, it's not very cool or hardcore i guess
>>
No. 929842 ID: 9fcd43

Revenge has kept us driven this long, and it's still ostensibly what we're going for. First it was for our sire, and now it's against the whole fucked up institution that led to all this happening in the first place. Constantin Bathory needs to die.
(I would say we need to take down the whole Cradle but we promised our mãe we wouldn't take it farther than we needed to)
>>
No. 929843 ID: 14e641

Fuck it, lets go off the deep end and take this shit like the one true hero.
"I will rip the cradle from it's roots and watch it burn."
>>
No. 929844 ID: b54723

Because this is our life now, and frankly we have to roll with the punches to thrive in life. We're not going to just die, are we? We wouldn't be able to fuck in whatever place is waiting for us at the end, possibly, so we might as well just keep living.

Death is not an option because, well, we just don't want to die. In other words, we survive to fuck and fuck to survive.

Surviving to achieve a goal is good, but we shouldn't survive JUST to achieve a goal, because say we do achieve it. What will we do afterwards? Die? No, we're gonna keep living because life has a lot to offer.
>>
No. 929845 ID: 8a7c27

even if they're not human, the vampires i've met are still people. and it seems like everywhere i go there are people i want to protect. so the answer is nothing's changed but the people around me, and those hunting them - now i just have more power to keep them alive
>>
No. 929848 ID: fde9cb

"You could of said all of this to me before I was turned. My life then was pretty similar to my life now, in some ways. My point is, if I was going to kill myself I would have done it long ago. I don't know exactly why I'm still alive, but I'd like to stay that way long enough to figure it out. And right now, that means being able to stand up to Bathory, Babenburg, Medici and whoever else."
>>
No. 929849 ID: bb78f2

>>929834
I gotta finish my fight with the Cradle, no more, no less. Whether that means killing Pascal sire one day, I don't really know, but that would be a great perk. I need to be strong to do that though, or whatever is required of me to finish this fight I was killed into. Cradle wants to start a fight with me? Fine, I'll end it.
>>
No. 929850 ID: b1b4f3

>>929834
Remember what you told your mother. You started something, you're gonna finish it. Want an ambition? You're gonna kill Pascal's sire. After that, you can die.

It's tempting to go further than that, and think of becoming an enforcer to take down other vampires that habitually abuse their wards. Would that be fitting of "No more, no less"?
>>
No. 929853 ID: 70df1e

youve got shit to live for now like getting pascal out of his cradle mess and maybe a goal of winning a fight against kel someday. you cant die yet whether or not you think it would be better because you got shit to do!! if living forever becomes terrible later there are ways around that. the cradle for one would be thrilled to fix this problem for you and thats another reason to live: spite. fuck those guys. exist and be mad about it like the rest of us immortality changes a lot but not that
>>
No. 929854 ID: 47b90b

isnt this a little bit like a fresh start to life(?) the situation may suck and yeah youre technically dead but you seem to have more solid connections with people dead than when you were alive.

and also youve got to finish what youve started with pascal at the vey least. youre here to get strong enough to kill the shit out of pascal’s sire. once thats done wether youre good to continue your undead life or not can wait till then tbh
>>
No. 929855 ID: 47b90b

(dont say this but your mom just found out youre alive and dying would fucking suck dude. like once this cradle shit is over or once its safer to do so you may be able to see her again)
>>
No. 929856 ID: 5da03e

>>929848
"The crisis I'm in now won't last forever, either I'll survive it or I'll fuck up and die. But there'll always be someone else out there looking to prey on the predators, and being able to stand up to future adversaries means being more than just strong, or clever, or good at talking others into doing what I want, or being a good lay, or whatever. It means pursuing a knife-edge of excellence, constantly, forever in competition with whoever or whatever else may want to see me and my allies come to a bad end. And I can't predict everything, there'll be black swans; the only thing I can do is keep getting better so I'll have a chance against the unimaginable. Because this isn't just today or tomorrow, but all the tomorrows until I fuck up and die the final death."
>>
No. 929857 ID: 328640

the obvious answer is "get used to it" considering you hardly lived like a vampire until mere days / weeks ago. then there's taking care of the apparent threat to both yourself and pascal. through whatever means that'll get them to fuck off and never subject anybody to what pascal and countless others have had to endure ever again -- which is very likely just ending them outright. they're the seekers of power that kel forewarns of.

but that's a lot to be thinking about. a lot of heroism that you aren't prone to; then again you were chasing the thought of retribution for five years.

how does "adjust, kick ass, and live quietly" sound?
>>
No. 929858 ID: 911f5f

"I've never been one to run from life. I do what must be done, and then I walk away, but that doesn't mean I give up easily. This is whats happening now, so I'll keep fighting to survive, whether or not I chose this."

asking ricardo why doesnt he die isnt too different from asking a human why they dont die. because they choose to survive.
>>
No. 929859 ID: 7c42cc

Five minute plan: get a drink and pay your dues.
Five day plan: get ripped.
Five month plan: rip apart the cradle.
Five year plan: see what's fun and what's worth living for since you didn't do a lot of that before your first death. If you live through the whole cradle destroying business, that is.
>>
No. 929864 ID: 23dc9d

The idea of "if you didn't want it to be like this then what is the point" is quite extreme considering thats just how being alive and living is. Sure we wanna rip out the Cradle and kill Constantine no doubt about that, but when it comes to US (and by us I mean Ricardo of course) really its about taking things as they come with no real need for some huge passionate ambition. I mean if we just went and died, we wouldn't have had ever met Pascal, or ever successfully fucked. Really good positive things for Ricardo that probably aren't fitting for him to tell Kel but are good for him to think about perhaps.
>>
No. 929865 ID: 5da03e

>>929859
Where's the fifty year plan? The five hundred year plan? Gonna need those too.
>>
No. 929866 ID: 1906ee

Spite in general seems to have been your general driving force. Spite towards the vampire who turned and ditched you, and now spite against the giant cabal who doesn't want you to be turned.
>>
No. 929867 ID: aedfd9

Listen. Clearly shit is fucked up with the cradle and all that, and we don't know exactly what happened with Teddy and whoever else but. Lots of stuff seems fucked up. And we don't want to be all cocky weight of the world magic destiny nonsense, but it sounds like the Cradle is picking a fight with us so our goal should be to fuck their shit up as much as we can. At the very least, we'll go down swinging; at best, we'll prove they're fallible. That there's hope in the world.

And after that... settle down. Find a man. Live a quiet life. Take care of friends.
>>
No. 929868 ID: 7c1ffe

I wanna protect my mom. And also Pasc- people. Some people. And also kill Dracula or whoever the fuck. Also maybe raise ducks that don't get scared of vampires.
>>
No. 929869 ID: c1212a

Unfinished business with the cradle. I understand that could take a century and still be a short term plan, but I don't think I'll really understand what long-term is going to mean for me until it happens. I'm really not one for thinking over big questions of purpose in life. Un-life. See, still getting used to it.
>>
No. 929871 ID: 10c408

"Honestly? I haven't really come up with a long term plan because I've gone from obsessively chasing revenge to realizing that not only am I just a tiny minnow in a VERY large pond, there's a snapping turtle at the bottom who hates me."
>>
No. 929878 ID: 9dd4cf

>>929865
figured that the requirement for passing the 5 month one was pretty ambitious as it was but...

50 year plan: take care of your mother
500 year plan: 450 years to become really really good at sex
5k plan: make a cat like you
>>
No. 929884 ID: 2e6ab6

Short term plan: Become skilled enough to keep people important to me safe.
Long term plan: Fucking... Pick up the violin again? Learn to paint? I got forever, might as well make the most of it.
>>
No. 929887 ID: c8452a

You're getting your 80 year minimum guaranteed, for your mom as well. You'll have time to think about the long term before then. In the short term, getting strong enough to survive and strong enough to end the problem of the Bathorys trying to capture you and Pascal. However that turns out.

Still, finding people to care about is definitely an important factor of any plans for immortality.

I'd confront her about her berating you for taking your time, but she doesn't actually seem to be holding it against you.
>>
No. 929894 ID: 7b57f2

>>929845
ayyyyyyyy

good boy energy
>>
No. 929897 ID: 8b6b39

vampires always think they can fuck with whatever they feel like, huh? i need to justify not wanting to die, now? just because some bloodsucking asslick couldn't finish his meal and now constantin's got his panties in a twist? i'll die when i'm good and goddamn ready to. pascal doesn't have the right to decide when i'm finished. cradle's creeps don't. and you don't. i'll kill anyone who tries to fuck with me or what's mine again

god, ricardo, you've spent a lot of your life getting into fights with bullies, haven't you
>>
No. 929983 ID: 655987

People have hit on this already, but I will reiterate that Kel's question is actually not the same as Pascal's, and is actually pretty different.

>"What’s the point of you sticking around, if you didn’t want things to end like this?” Her eyes flick up again, glowing crimson. “Why don’t you just die, huh?"

The point of sticking around is because *we don't want things to end like this.* We don't just die because there is shit that we are just not cool with leaving be.

There have always been things we are just not cool with, and we just don't let that go. We evidently never have. We have never been cool with clocking out when there's still a shithead whose ass is asking to be kicked. Maybe we didn't go out of our way to find such shitheads, but right now at least there are several who we are not going to turn down.

At least, that's my best attempt at guessing the literal reasons at future opportunities to, not just kill ourselves, but even to bow out of the fight in some other way. We're not going to, and I think this is why.
>>
No. 930015 ID: 337b3c

>>929834
Ditto to finishing what we started, and we don't want it to end like this. Maybe we don't have a long term plan yet, but we know we're not satisfied with how things currently are, hence why we haven't just died.
>>
No. 930016 ID: 094652

>any source of power that exists, they’ll try to find and take for themselves.
>Why don’t you just die, huh?
"Agreed. We were born weak. We end up believing that makes us incomplete, and we'll do anything to fix ourselves. 'Power' and 'immortality', and I still get my ass kicked by a centuries-old romance hipster, and a faux-cute bull. @#$%ing 'course it's not enough. I won't stop until I find out what I'm too stupid to realize is missing."
>>
No. 930098 ID: 270774
File 155547560138.png - (86.83KB , 800x525 , 456.png )
930098

Ricardo finally centers himself, and he makes eye contact when he speaks. “Because even as a vampire, I want — there are people I want to protect. My mother. And—”

“Oh, shut up,” says Kel.

Ricardo blinks. Kel’s refilling her glass, again. “I want to protect my loved ones, I want to keep the people important to me safe, and on and on. So does everyone, little fool. Do you think anyone’s motivating force is ‘I want to be too weak to do anything about it when danger threatens my family?’”

“Are any of you people satisfied by anything?” Ricardo asks, flatly.

“No,” says Kel, “which is why most of us are bigger and stronger than you and we get to push you around.” She taps the table once more. “Try again.”

“Alright.” Ricardo crosses his arms and glares across the desk. “Alright. How about this, then. It is about the fact that I didn’t want this. I don’t want to be a warlord like you. I don’t care about power, I don’t care about politics. But I have unfinished business, and I don’t clock out until it’s done, and nobody gets to tell me when it’s done. Not Pascal, not the Cradle, and not you.”

“Mm.” When Kel drains her glass again, this time she fills the second one along with it, nudging it across the table. “Unfinished business, hm? With Pascal? Listen, I love the little bastard, but good luck getting an apology out of that piece of shit—”

“Unfinished business with the Cradle,” Ricardo interrupts. “I’m going to kill Constantin Bathory.”

Kel chokes on her mead.
>>
No. 930099 ID: 270774
File 155547561569.png - (167.74KB , 800x525 , 457.png )
930099

“Constantin Bathory,” she finally rasps. She slams her glass down — Ricardo still hasn’t touched his. “Who’s going to kill Constantin Bathory? You are, little meat? Little morsel?” She slaps the surface of the desk, hard enough that the whole thing creaks. “Let me tell you something about Constantin Bathory.”
>>
No. 930100 ID: 270774
File 155547563024.png - (350.19KB , 800x525 , 458.png )
930100

“I only train my own now, but it wasn’t always that way. A good two centuries ago, I was contracted by the House of Bathory to train their duelists. I went to Transylvania, with a small entourage, met the Marquess, started my work.”

“And anyone knows this, even you, but there’s something wrong in that castle. There’s something wrong with those wards.”

>>
No. 930101 ID: 270774
File 155547564317.png - (275.87KB , 800x525 , 459.png )
930101

“I don’t raise my wards with a soft hand, Ribeye. You’ve seen that yourself.”


“But I was barely in that place a month before I threw down my sword, told that fucking viper that I wasn’t taking his money, and left.”

“I left because after I saw what happens there, after I peered into the fucking tar pit of that man’s heart, I knew if I didn’t pull myself away, I was going to tear his throat out myself. And I could have done it, no doubt about that — but he’s Vlad Dracula’s little pet, allied with every other house in the Cradle, and it would’ve brought a war that my forces weren’t prepared for. So I left before I could start it.”

>>
No. 930102 ID: 270774
File 155547565633.png - (345.00KB , 800x525 , 460.png )
930102

“That’s a debt I owe your sire. I met him then, after all. And I should have razed that fucking place to the ground behind me, or at least pulled him out when I went — a gift of freedom he would have spat back in my face, but it would have been something.”
>>
No. 930103 ID: 270774
File 155547566735.png - (212.21KB , 800x525 , 461.png )
930103

Kel picks her teeth with the end of one long claw. “So I, with all my forces and my power, with hundreds under me willing to fight and die, with every damn good reason — I stayed my blade. But you? You’re going to charge in there, Ribeye? Are you the hero in a storybook? Are you the dashing lead of a romance novel, huh? You’re going to defeat the nasty mean man?” Unkind laughter bubbles up in Kel’s throat, filtered through her teeth into a snarl. “And for what? Because he wronged you? Because he’s wicked?” She plants both hands on the desk, leaning forward, teeth bared. “Because a pretty boy is sad?”

Another laugh, ragged around the edges. “There are no storybook heroes, Ribeye, and good men make shitty vampires. And there’s no glory or valor in starting fights you can’t win. I know that. All you get for it is the people who believe in you die, and they die ugly, meaningless deaths, and no matter how you try to twist it the only purpose those deaths will ever serve is to remind you that you weren’t ready. And there’s not even anyone who believes in you here, Ribeye. There’s not anybody who’s gonna die for you to begin with. And you’re gonna pick a fight with Constantin Bathory?” She leans forward further, jaws parting, teeth glinting huge and white. “You and what army, child?”
>>
No. 930104 ID: 8a7c27

i took you for a woman of her word, kel, but apparently all that chant about war and meat for the machine is just talk if you only take battles you know you can win.
>>
No. 930105 ID: fc32c1

uh. cry
>>
No. 930106 ID: 70df1e

one person can do what an army cant. assassins can kill kings when squadrons and squadrons of soldiers cant reach them. a single thief can rob someone of everything that they and their family value. a single arsonist can raze a city to the ground. we don't need an army to do this, and we don't want one. we don't want people to die for this. we get in, we kill him, and we get out, and the consequences of that are on our head and our head alone.

and i guess technically pascal's head, but his whole big plan is to go back so constantin can kill him, so like, one way or another one of us is going to be happy about this
>>
No. 930109 ID: 9707e7

“yours.”

kel is an ally and she might be willing to help us if we convince her we’re worth helping? she obviously hates constantine, so maybe we can. appeal to that?
>>
No. 930110 ID: 0f15ab

Uuuh lets try not to make kel any madder considering she’s sticking her neck out for us and training us as a favor? I think being honest and saying we don’t know how we’re going to do anything (since right now we’re focused on not dying) but that its a long term goal. Like yeah we can’t do anything now but years from now we probably can?
>>
No. 930111 ID: 2e6ab6

I mean. Yeah, that went about where I figured that train of thought would go. Taking on the whole Cradle is a task we're... Probably not cut out for. Hell, killing Constantine is a task we're probably not cut out for. We're just some punk whelp.
Last I checked, we just kind of want to live in peace. But we can't do that with Constantine on our ass. So we need to solve it somehow. But we can't go to war with the Cradle...
Then again...
We don't have to.
We don't need allies.
We don't need an army.
We don't need anyone willing to die for us.
All we need is ourself.
All we need is to get within striking distance.
It'd probably be the last thing we ever did, but we could kill a single vampire.
But is that what we really want? Kel made a good point. What do *we* want? For ourselves? We don't like fighting. And settling this score will just make more problems for the people we care about...
I don't actually have an answer here...
>>
No. 930112 ID: c1eaac

"you asked me for a long term goal, were you expecting me to have a plan already drawn up and ready to go?"

maybe you don't know how yet, but yeah, your long-term goal is to kill constantin. and a goal like that is something you work towards and plan for, not something you see the path to right away. so maybe you don't have an army right now. maybe you'll have time to gather one. hell, maybe you'll duel kel and win and use hers. or maybe your plan will call to go in alone, and you won't know that until farther down the line.
>>
No. 930113 ID: 23dc9d

No one is gonna die for us thats true, and no one believes in us. And therefore there is no one for the Cradle to start a war with over an assassination of Constantin unlike being in Kel's position. We are just considered a mistake in other vampires' eyes so anything we get to do will die with us (and Pascal I guess, or any strays that choose to fight with us for some reason, but that choice is theirs). Kel says she could have torn him apart? Thats all we need to know. We can get there and thats what matters.
>>
No. 930116 ID: 51d10f

One thing you have on bathory that an army wouldn't is that, technically you're of the house of bathory yourself. No matter whether you or bathory would want it to be the case, by the cradle's own rules you are a bathory. But unfortunately for them, they didn't get to brainwash you. You were alone, without any indoctrination, and so you're completely free from having any ounce of loyalty towards the house hammered into you. At the very least, your situation must be exceptionally uncommon for the house. That's gotta count for something. What other abandoned-technically-bathory-ward is there?
So you don't have enough information to have a detailed strategy yet, so what. Of course you don't have that yet. That's why you're training. You know you need a lot more information and practice before you could do anything like that. That doesn't mean you can't know that what you're training towards long-term is to ultimately make that guy dead.
>>
No. 930117 ID: c8452a

Then it's simple isn't it? If he has Dracula's favor, what we actually need to do is ruin that, and we'll be free to do whatever we want to Constantin. Then all Kel needs to do is keep her promise and get Ricardo fighting fit, and hook him up with the connections he needs.
>>
No. 930118 ID: 14e641

Yeah, becaise he's a horrible guy who's done horrible things and thats a better reason to fight than 90 of historic battles.
No army.
No one else needs to die.
Ricardo is just a small guy without any connections. No ome has to choose a side or blame another house because there is no other house.
>>
No. 930119 ID: 8a7c27

kel's old and she's seen a lot of friends die. i don't think she wants any more of that. sure, getting strong and protecting pascal is our short-term goal, like she asked of us - but the cradle won't sit on their haunches forever. as grim as it is, if she's not preparing and gathering power, they'll crush all of us someday, and no amount of individual strength will protect us then.
>>
No. 930120 ID: 094652

"Give me five minutes with craigslist and I could assemble a suicide squad by next week. Give me a decade and I'll have a suicidal cult village like every other seasoned millennial vamp. The twenty-first century is an overcrowded lotus-eater machine filled with junkies, bite-sized dictatorships, and conspiracy-ass-kissing media whores. I point my disposable plastic barrier at castle transylvania and wait for my loss in battle to cash out as a lawsuit and a scandal for Bathy.

Or I could just throw a nuke at him and claim he had sex with a broken arrow."
>>
No. 930121 ID: 3a4ee3

>>930103
"I don't need an army. I just need to get close enough to tear his heart and smash his skull. I'm the scrapped ward of a dissowned mam. Who will they go after? Cradle vamps don't give a shit about humans and I can never go back to me mae anyways. You have an army to look after. I just have Pascal, and he will never be free as long as Bathory lives."
>>
No. 930122 ID: c1212a

Are you asking about long-term plans or not? You think I don't know what happens if I try marching to the front gates on my lonesome the minute I leave Nevada? I might be young, but I'm not so stupid I don't know what 'long-term' means for vampires.
>>
No. 930123 ID: b1b4f3

>>930103
One man can kill one man. It could even be a duel. With the right wager, there would be no war.
>>
No. 930124 ID: 8b6b39

what? am i going to live forever?

i don't have an army and i don't have a good reason. nor do i need one. what i do have is time. and i finish what i start. even if it takes thousands of years.
>>
No. 930125 ID: 3ed3c3

>>930103
No armies. Obviously, they don't work. Kel is proof of that.
Ricardo said, “I’M going to kill Constantin Bathory.”
Ricardo is going to kill Constantin Bathory.
Not Kel.
Not Pascal.
Nobody else.
Just Ricardo.
How? Don't know yet.
Figured he'd kill some people.
Eat some people.
See where that takes him.
>>
No. 930126 ID: 10c408

"Kel. How LONG do you think Pascal and I are gonna be able to keep running? Sooner or later, we're gonna make a mistake, be a little slow just once. And that's that. Just another sad pathetic note for constantin bathory to mull over with a glass of liquer.

Orrr, and I thought we were talking long term plans here, putting the bastard down.

or at least trying for it instead of getting hunted down.
>>
No. 930127 ID: 5e673e

hah. i dont have anyone to fight for me. which means i dont have anyone to die for me, to die if i fuck up.
and, more importantly im a bathory, arent i? unlike if you and your wards and your house killed him, the cradle would have no one to blame if i took down the head bathory. it would be, really, family infighting. and sure, they might kill me, in fact its likely theyll succeed - but really, they're already trying to kill me, so what the fuck is the difference? you yourself said immortality was forced on me. but if i get strong enough to take down constantin, and succeed? they might have to acknowledge me as the next in line.
>>
No. 930128 ID: d9bac8

"What part of 'nobody gets to tell me when it's done' was hard to understand?"
>>
No. 930129 ID: 5b93d3

"What army? I'm not going to fight him like a vampire, I'm going to murder him like a human. No duels, no wars, no fancy swordfights, no names and backstories."
>>
No. 930143 ID: 0e732c

"what, like that's hard??
>>
No. 930147 ID: 9fcd43

I think she's not taking into account just how much less we have to lose than her. She's got this giant army, however many divisions of wards to take care of and train and lead. We've got Pascal and Andy and that's about it, and we know vampires don't really think of going after living relatives.
>>
No. 930148 ID: 10c408

>>930147
The way I see it she started talking less about Ricardo and more about her dead wife at the end there.

Not that we should bring this up because she'll totally fucking kill us.
>>
No. 930170 ID: b54723

Kel, you're right on that, we don't have a plan and we haven't given serious thought on it. Because uhhh [thinks about the nonstop fuck trip] things. Yes, things.

However, we will think of a plan soon enough, and she may give suggestions on it and even help but if she thinks she's going to deter us from staking a motherfucker? No way.
>>
No. 930177 ID: 7011e0

we're not stupid. we can't do this by ourselves. but the entire point of us being here is to get stronger! and we're going to do that. then we're going to make allies, see who else is tired of the bathory family, because i'm sure there's a lot even if some of those people will just want the power they'll leave behind. the cradle seems indestructible but that's because they say so and act like it, they must have weaknesses even if you don't think they do, kel. we're going to do this.

we would super appreciate your help, though. you're already putting yourself out there training us and you obviously don't owe us anything but you would be an amazing ally in this because you know them so well
>>
No. 930191 ID: cd6e45

"I didn't say I was gonna kill him tomorrow, or even next year or the year after. Just, eventually. It's a long term goal."
>>
No. 930192 ID: bb78f2

>>930103
Just me, no army, maybe through a duel, if I can get him to accept somehow, it's a long shot.

I don't want to be a hero. I want petty vengeance that's satisfying. I want to kill him for me, just myself. Because the reality is that I need a fight to fight. Ever since I turned, I needed a fight. Bathory is the only foe that makes sense in my head. I need to fight him. For me.

I have a lust to kill him.
>>
No. 930195 ID: 7c1ffe

We're a Bathory bastard pretty much. Bastard children taking over in a coup was common for humans. Why not vampires?

But we have a fight and we finish it, no matter how long it takes. We're doing this for ourselves, and if we end up powerful and rich that's only a side benefit.
>>
No. 930251 ID: fcd356

For full badass points, just say "forever gives me a long time to finish what I start"
>>
No. 930275 ID: e0d756

Point out she's not saying it's impossible. If you need an army, you'll get an army, but you're your mother's son and she taught you to finish what you start and the cradle are after you anyway so why the fuck not see how far you can get.
>>
No. 930328 ID: aedfd9

This may not be intended to be a test, but we have to push back - just like when Minoru tried to get us to sell out. Be firm! Maybe even yell! You understand her priorities were different, but you Constantin Bathory is the reason you exist. If it takes an army to kill him, you'll spend eternity raising that army. Maybe her forces weren't prepared but you and anyone with you will be.
>>
No. 930683 ID: b463f2

>"Are you the hero in a storybook? Are you the dashing lead of a romance novel, huh? You’re going to defeat the nasty mean man? ... Because he wronged you? Because he’s wicked? ... Because a pretty boy is sad?”

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and finally, yes.
>>
No. 930995 ID: 1351c0

The love in Ricardo's heart and blood in his undead boner is more powerful than any undead vampire army.
>>
No. 931355 ID: 270774
File 155642812060.png - (71.24KB , 800x525 , 462.png )
931355

“I don’t need an army.” Ricardo’s back is pressed firmly to the chair. He has to stand his ground without antagonizing her — a task that for him, someone who struggles with small talk, seems daunting, but maybe in a way he’s more suited for this than social pleasantries. “Nobody wants to die for me, and I don’t want them to, either. All I need is to get within striking distance. Me, by myself, and him, that’s it. And no, I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’ve got time, don’t I? I don’t need a plan til I’m ready to carry it out. And you can give suggestions, if you want, but you’re not going to stop me.” A pause. He pushes his boundaries. “Am I wrong to trust that your training would be enough to prepare me?”

Kel tilts her head at him, one elbow propped on the armrest of her chair. “You can’t kill a vampire in one hit. If you were a power type, maybe. Not a shifter, though. So you need striking distance, and enough time to get both his head and his heart. How are you gonna do that?”

This time the questioning seems Socratic, not derisive, and Ricardo finds himself smiling a little in spite of himself. “Are you endorsing this plan?”

“You don’t have a plan, and I’m not endorsing shit,” Kel snaps. “Answer the question.”

“I don’t know yet. I’ll figure it out.” The office is still, though outside, down the hall and muffled by distance and space, he can hear vampires laughing and talking. The snippets he catches are mindless gossip, and he turns his focus back into the four walls of the room. “If I could get him to accept a duel, that would be ideal. One on one, and nobody to blame or chase down but me.”

Kel laughs, then, and like her questions, this laugh has softened and warmed. She claps the desk lightly with her palm a few times. “I like that you think of it that way, Ribeye, I gotta admit. That’s what duels used to be. What they should be. Two vampires and no strings attached, and nobody could complain about the outcomes. An even playing field, through and through.”

Ricardo narrows his eyes. “Used to be? What changed?”
>>
No. 931356 ID: 270774
File 155642813465.png - (200.38KB , 800x525 , 463.png )
931356

“Ah. Pascal hasn’t told you about ward shielding, huh?” She nudges the second filled glass across the desk, again, and this time Ricardo takes it into his hands as he shakes his head. “Well. It’s not like he was trying to hide anything from you, I don’t think. Probably just didn’t think it was ever gonna matter. He would never invoke it, and I bet you’ve made a solemn vow to never turn anyone, yeah?”

Ricardo nods, stiffly, a little chagrined.

“Yeah,” Kel laughs, “you seem the type. Well. Like I said, a duel used to be a sacred thing. An even field. You meet a single vampire, just you and your swords or your claws, and you settle things — and it didn’t matter what their title was, how many estates they had, the size of their coven, the powerful alliances they had — all of that was shit compared to the outcome of a duel. If you settled it between yourselves, with that holy bond, nobody could say anything. A footsoldier could take down a king.”

Kel’s gaze has gone a little distant, focused out somewhere over Ricardo’s shoulder. “‘Course, that’s the kind of thing kings can’t stand, right? So they made changes. ‘They’ being the Cradle, mostly, seeing as they’re the locus of power.” Her voice is tilting, hardening, sliding off an edge of light recitation into contempt. “Couple centuries ago, the Cradle heads of house all got together, put forward a motion that your wards count as an extension of yourself. So by definition, to challenge a sire is to challenge all their wards, too.”

She shrugs. “I’ll spare you the politics. The point is, it was accepted. And now, if you challenged someone to a duel, regardless of the rules invoked, they could ward shield — that is, literally shield themselves behind their wards. To fight them, you’d have to fight and defeat as many of their wards as they care to use, all back to back, until you’d finally fought your way through to the sire.”
>>
No. 931357 ID: 270774
File 155642814592.png - (161.06KB , 800x525 , 464.png )
931357

Ricardo’s thinking about sixty duels, back to back. That sounds fucking bleak. “But that —”

“Yeah, I know. Defeats the whole purpose, right? But it doesn’t matter. It turns your coven into raw power, and that’s all they care about. And, of course, you could ward shield right back at them. But you ever play the card game War?”

Ricardo nods, hesitantly.

“Imagine that, except when you play a high card, you get to leave it there til the other person draws a card that beats it — that’s a powerful ward, a real duelist, holding their own against weaker opponents. And imagine both of you don’t have an equal number of cards — you’ve got ‘em according to how many wards you have, of course. If you’ve got a small, strong hand, maybe you can win — but over time, eventually, the person with more cards is gonna win, almost every time. Especially since your duelists are gonna wear out. So it stopped meaning anything. The winner of a duel is almost always gonna be the one with the biggest estate, the most wards. The one who considers their wards the most disposable, on top of that.”

There’s a pause, as Ricardo absorbs this, and Kel watches him absorb it. When she speaks again, her voice is a little quieter.

“Constantin Bathory has a nasty habit.”
>>
No. 931358 ID: 270774
File 155642815857.png - (107.89KB , 800x525 , 465.png )
931358

Ricardo looks up. Kel’s hand is held lightly over her mouth, and her eyes are unreadable.

“Normally, if you’re ward shielding, you put your strongest duelists first. You hope they can take out as many of the opponent’s wards as possible before going down — maybe they can clear them all out, if they’re really good, and then you’re risking as few of your wards as possible. But when Bathory gets challenged, he doesn’t do that.”

Ricardo swallows dryly. “What does he do?”

“He sends his ornaments out first.”

Ricardo stares at her for a moment, uncomprehending.

“His decorative wards,” Kel clarifies. “The ones he’s tired of, the ones that have annoyed him recently. I don’t know if you knew this, but in most Cradle houses, wards are separated into roles — ornaments, duelists, emissaries, and so on. And in most Cradle houses, it’s forbidden for ornaments to own arms or train in combat. But Bathory sends his out. It’s a convenient way to wipe them out when he’s done with them, without having to do the unpleasant business himself. He sends his real duelists out once he’s bored of watching ornaments die, or if he’s run out of ones he’s willing to lose.”

The air hangs heavy in the room. Ricardo can’t think of anything to say. Kel’s still looking out somewhere beyond the walls.

“That’s probably Pascal’s fate,” Kel continues, a little absently. “When he goes back, if Bathory doesn’t kill him right off the bat for his trouble. The next time someone challenges him, it would be Pascal on the frontlines. That’s what you get for being disobedient, in the House of Bathory.” She looks back at him, finally, eyes lidded. “Is that challenger gonna be you?”

Ricardo opens his mouth, but she’s already leaning across the desk again. “Even if it wasn’t him, it would be his covenmates. Other ornaments, ones he’s spent a century with. I don’t know what kind of relationship you think you have with Pascal Cosovei, but you’re nothing to him compared to them. They bathe together, sleep together, groom each other, feed together. If you hurt a single one of them, you think he’d ever forgive you? These helpless, shivering little things that don’t even know how to hold a sword?”
>>
No. 931363 ID: 094652

"Plan B: We drive Bathory insane, old-school. Curses injected into nanomachine-augmented bacteria. Simple, destructive, effective. And then we sit back and watch as his ornaments and knights flap the @#$% out of there while his indoctrinated murderhobos run on broken strategies."
>>
No. 931364 ID: 9fcd43

oh my fucking god i'm. CONSTANTIN BATHORY NEEDS TO DIE. i dont know how but he does

uhhh ask Kel if she can get us some sneaky assassin training instead
>>
No. 931365 ID: 7e9c89

hi jesus CHRIST. well. um. we knew we needed more pplanning... i guess we also definitely need to talk to pascal about what he can stand. bc making tht decision for him and killing people he does talk of fondly isnt. a good idea!!!
>>
No. 931366 ID: 9dd4cf

What a fucking cowardly pissant. Refer to him as something rude in Portuguese.

But we don't have to kill the decorative wards, do we? Just beat them.

New plan. We pick off his wards, one on one, over years, our win criteria? This is the only duel against Ricardo they can fight. After this they're done. That way when we get to king fucklord he'll only have his decorative wards to put forward, we beat them but don't kill them, and face him last.
>>
No. 931367 ID: 14e641

Well fuck
But that's where tike would come in. You get voices on the inside see who's really loyal. Who hates the way they're treated? Who wants something better? Poke at Bathoney until his empire crimbles like a game of janga.
But that takes time, a lot of time.

On the brightside the collection of hot Kel pictures (all of them) has grown.
>>
No. 931368 ID: 8a7c27

then we cheat. scum like that doesn't deserve honor, and we don't come from a house, so we don't have to play by their rules.
>>
No. 931370 ID: 2e6ab6

WOW this man just becomes more and more trash the more we learn about him... Uh... Well, we could try to destabilize the house, then kill him when he has noting left? Even if we could chew through all his wards, *would* we? Would we be able to keep going? Would nonlethal means even be accepted? Would the wards just be killed if they lost anyways?
It's starting to sound like the only way to get to count fucknuts might be to upend the entire cradle system... Which... Honestly might be for the best, if the cradle is such a hive of shitty cowards that they made a rule *specifically* to keep themselves from ever having to face consequences at the expense of their wards...
But that would take a very long time...
>>
No. 931371 ID: b54723

I'm thinking nonlethal subduing but I don't know how Pascal would feel about that. Kel is asking a lot out of us and is expecting us to come up with a fully formed plan on the spot. We should probably take a moment to think about this and ask Pascal what he thinks of the ideas we might have.
>>
No. 931372 ID: b54723

>>931371
Nonlethal subduing of the wards that cannot fight back and lethal killing of Bathory through creative interpretations of the word "defeat" that can vary wildly from duel to duel.
>>
No. 931373 ID: 7011e0

okay! no duel then. just a straight up rebellion
>>
No. 931375 ID: c1eaac

What if we challenge Constantin to a duel that isn't Bathory rules? Like Brooklyn rules.
>>
No. 931377 ID: b1b4f3

>>931358
Does he ever leave the mansion? Could he be vulnerable to a planted explosive or long-distance attack like a sniper rifle? With the right ammo you can explode someone's head, and the second shot can destroy their heart.
If we can get him alone for even a second we could blow him up in person. Mist form could be immune to explosions, and a big enough explosion will destroy both the head and heart at once. Might want to test just how invulnerable mist form is beforehand.
While I'm thinking of explosions... we could blow up the mansion to expose him, or otherwise force him out of his hiding place.
We could also try to take advantage of other vampire weaknesses. I only remember running water as being particularly deadly though.
...if we can't get him *alone*, can we at least get/catch him away from the manor so there are less targets to take down? Is there any restriction on ward shielding, like do they have to be nearby? If he's out traveling with some bodyguards and we duel him there, will Ricardo only have to fight the bodyguards?

Pascal might know a way to get to him. He's already accepted that Ricardo wants to do it, so we can conspire with him. Pascal should know at least some of Constantin's habits.
Just how badly are Constantin's wards treated? Is it possible for them to turn against him? ...do wards have a subconscious desire to please their sires?

I wonder if we could use humans somehow... like maybe we can get some of them to help. Vampires can't be easily killed by bullets but they sure can be disabled by them. Could even manufacture silver bullets for extra oomph. Are there any records of how vampire hunters used to operate? We could try out some of their tactics.
I expect Constantin has guns on his side too though, and if he's not too out of touch he's got security cameras... which means a lot of old tactics would no longer work. We really could use more information here about how good his security is.
>>
No. 931378 ID: 70df1e

so lads we are back to planning an assassination rather than a fair and square duel because if constantin isnt going to fight fair neither are we
>>
No. 931379 ID: 51d10f

Man. Those wards... Hurting or killing them would definitely not be an option. They’re as much in need of help and opportunity for freedom as Pascal is.

I don’t really know How possible this would be to accomplish but I wonder if there could be some way to get other wards to turn against bathory as well? Not necessarily in a “getting them to help attack him” way, but maybe some kind of, “I won’t attack the defenceless or unwilling, and anyone who doesn’t want to fight me, you don’t have to and I’ll protect you if they try to punish you for disobeying orders” approach or something like that.

From what we know about the Situation there it seems more than likely it would be really hard to get any of them to fully turn against him and actively rebel against bathory. But if there will be defenceless people pitted against you in what is intended to be sending them to their death, if you could get strong enough that you could truthfully offer them protection if they wanted to disobey those orders? Maybe that’d be something?

(I don’t remember what the various duel rules we’ve heard say re: forfeiting but even if it’s forbidden, idk, maybe something could be figured out with whatever we had to work with.)
>>
No. 931382 ID: ea82cb

Could we play politics? Ingratiate ourselves into the Cradle, use that to discredit Bathory? Or maybe it's simpler. Get close to Bathory, get him near water and push him in. Not sure how to do that within getting caught though.
>>
No. 931383 ID: 51d10f

>>931379
Oh, another last thought I want to add related to my suggestion:
Vampires are vulnerable alone. And wards confined in a castle together would be even more conditioned to see the idea of being alone as unthinkable and untenable. I’m guessing the fear of being exiled and alone (like what happened to Pascal,) probably functions as one of the big deterrents to any vampire in a system like the cradle who might secretly want to defy or escape it. So, if someone could show wards a way out that has the promise of not being totally alone and abandoned, that might make the option seem a lot more possible for them. (Which... Is easier said than done. But, big picture strategy-wise?)
>>
No. 931386 ID: 44d41c

i don't think trying to go all lawful on it would help. bathory clearly is a bag of dicks and something like still going on it with methods like trying nonlethal combat with the decorative wards will just bite ricardo in the ass. who knows if b even cares about the rules That much. a prim and proper duel approach sounds horrible, now, and should probably be discarded. assasination, maybe? get a sexy silver weapon duo that can pierce a heart and decapitate at the same time? let's get strong first, anyway. and talk to pascal about the.... Everything. and how fucked up bathory is. thank kel for the information and ask if she can offer more on how fucked and tilted cradle rules operate
>>
No. 931392 ID: 02dcc7

Thats...... that's horrifying.
You can't duel him.
"I couldn't forgive myself if I hurt them. This is so fucked."
Well, then....then you have to figure out a way to assassinate him, or something. The thing is, normally you could challenge him with other rules, which involve non-lethal forfeiting, but do you remember how Pascal ripped off his arm like it was nothing? The other ornaments are all like that too. They'll make you kill them.
>>
No. 931397 ID: aedfd9

Fuck. Uuuh time to think about how Pascal rushing to defend you that time with Minbun was probably a really grim manifestation of suicidal impulses and acceptance that he'll probably die in a duel someday anyway. God, no wonder he takes duels so seriously, if he and his friends are all "disposed" by them. Jesus.

Umm, new plan. We have got to incite a mutiny or something. I know there's tradition and brainwashing, but we have got to free his wards, or change the rules, or something. We can't let this continue. Honestly, if Kel is telling us this to discourage us, she's wrong because she's just proving even more why we need to act.
>>
No. 931398 ID: 446c59

Woof. That's fucking awful.

Are there rules specifically for wards challenging sires? How would that work in the same house? I'm just trying to think if there's a way to nullify ward shielding.

But if not, assassination? What's to stop us from sneaking in and murdering him, other than the standard guards and such. Could we take over the house? Or are there some treaties or something that would cause us trouble if we did?
>>
No. 931401 ID: 5b93d3

Well if Duelling means fighting all his Wards anyway, it's not even worth bothering with at all. Just go for straight-up assassination instead.
>>
No. 931402 ID: 1351c0

Alright now that we've ruled out duels because old man Bathory is cruel old bastard I would say assassination or even biological weapons. Of course as far as we know Ricardo's beautiful face his impulsive attitude has all but ruled out a subtle well thought out assassination attempt. Still if he wants a hares ass chance of success my moneys on biological warfare, lets see how that vampiric constitution holds up when you pump VFD Factor through an ancient European manor.
>>
No. 931404 ID: bb78f2

Honestly I vote voodoo doll use
>>
No. 931405 ID: bb78f2

You know, on legitimate thoughts if voodoo isn't an option,
There might be a loophole with Ripongi doubles or similar rulesets.

Doubles might require the sire to fight with the ward they send out, depending on the wording of Cradle law when it comes to ward shielding.

Listen man, lets hire a vampire duel lawyer.
With enough respect in the vampire community to establish our own house and rules, we might be able to get around ward shielding.
>>
No. 931407 ID: b463f2

>>931373
>>931383
yessss.... yesssssssss....

honestly, current vampire culture approaches violence as the only solution, but... if constantine and other cradle bs people constantly use wards like this, there <i>have</i> to be other wards who are displeased, to say the least, with their treatment - and not just wards within that structure, given how Kel feels about it!

and I think... situations where a foe is too strong to take head on in their own game, are ones where chipping away at their structures of power is a good route.... and doing that by finding and creating safety for the people they harm is doubly good.

So, I'm all for this House of Ricardo plan. Think we should visit Brooklyn at some point when it's possible - their den seems to be the closest kind of structure we've heard of to the kind of egalitarian house Ricardo would form if we're going this route.

...................and even if luring wards away bit by bit to a safer environment doesn't directly help us kill constantine, well. that's more people who have experienced some measure of safety and self determination than before, and I think that still counts as good work, in the eyes of Ricardo, and probably Andy, too. And we do know that Ricardo wants to do Andy proud.
>>
No. 931418 ID: 10c408

Given this new and frankly, obscene development, I can only see this going one way. There are others, to be sure, but unless we manage to get him to cheese off all of his allies somehow, I think this is our best option. (And honestly? As poetic as it is to simply kick-start a cradle civil-war it will not be easy and if we don't die outright in the attempt then all of the cradle will be trying to find and kill us.)

step 1: we find a rules loophole that prevents ward shielding or other shenanigans and become BFF's with the major vampire faction where such ruling exists.

step 2: we piss off constantine bathory enough to the point where he stops sending assassins and comes to kill us, personally. He HAS to leave Europe for this to work.

step 3: arrange things so that he can't do any kind of cheesy shit to the dueling site we've picked out ahead of time. (Personally, I'm thinking vampire tranq darts or the equivalent thereof, tear gas and vampire riot teams to non-lethally subdue the decorative wards. All of this would have to be from that major vampire faction I mentioned earlier.)

step 4: try to kill the bastard in a duel.
>>
No. 931419 ID: 2c228e

Well, it's obvious that doing it the vampire way won't work, which leaves the human way. Assassination via brutal ambush. Won't get any of the "legal" protection as a duel would, but you'd actually remove him without letting him burn everything down around him.
>>
No. 931427 ID: 8ccdc4

I think we need to separate Constantin from his wards, somehow. He can't use them as meat shields if he's away from them- then, we trap him into a duel with something we can't refuse. Maybe we could bait him? Find the thing that's most valuable to him and use it to lure him out into a duel?
It's kind of an underhanded move- but I don't think assassinating a vampire is the right way to go. These guys are practically invincible, and who knows what old vampires of capable of regen-wise.
No- we need to get him one-on-one, without his ward shields; we need to give him an offer he can't refuse. And then we pull a mignon and break that bastards spine
>>
No. 931429 ID: ab42ff

in the interest of context, how many duels have there been between cradle houses since that rule got accepted? does kel know anything about who's challenged the bathory house in recent history (by vampire metric) and how it went?

the last thing we want to do is actually enter a shielded duel with constantin bathory; that's our death on his terms, to say nothing of pascal's knowledge that we'd be facing ornamental wards. on that topic, i just don't think it will be possible to convince his wards, whom he has owned and rebuilt entirely, to leave his side - unless we take time to do so, but the labor alone of getting close enough to convince them, over decades, to even listen to you speaks ill of efficiency or effectiveness.
>>
No. 931437 ID: 1351c0

I dont know I feel like Ricardo would have a greater chance if he tried the honeypot, we already know how effective his tongue is and its obvious that Bathory has a type. He will obviously need uh further training from Pascal, buuut Ricardo can shift into a thin waisted cute feminine boy and seduce Bathory then while he is in throes of joy brought on by the golden tongue of Ricardo he strikes dealing Bathory a fatal blow.

Analingus 2020!!!
>>
No. 931450 ID: e3a778

Seconding asking Kel about any outstanding examples of duels in the past, because we might get some ideas or something, and we also shouldn’t decide on anything until we can talk to Pascal about all this. It seems like Kel is just putting pressure on us to see how serious we are about it, though.

She hates all of this, too. Maybe we can convince her to really help us out with this someday . . . not now, but once we’ve proven ourselves in some way. Bathory must have plenty of enemies, and we should forge alliances with as many of them as we can, starting with Kel.
>>
No. 931489 ID: 9dd4cf

>>931398
> Are there rules specifically for wards challenging sires? How would that work in the same house? I'm just trying to think if there's a way to nullify ward shielding.

There are actually, Pascal said something about a cradle rule being that someone at equal or greater rank needs to okay the duel before it goes ahead. I'd look it up but I'm tired and lazy.

Pretty sure the reason is precisely so the lower ranks can't overthrow their abusive overlords in a one on one duel.

I do think there's likely something along this vein we could use, just not this.
>>
No. 931521 ID: cd6e45

i'm too dumb to think of a real strategic plan but. *slamming my fists on the table* house of castro! house of castro! house of castro!
>>
No. 931525 ID: b2a17a

i am BadAtStrategyTM but if Ricardo trains up his mist form so that he's capable of holding it for a long time he could slide through the shadows of house bathory and yoink the old man in his home while he's drunk
>>
No. 931584 ID: d1677e

Is there any specific house rule conditions that could render ward shielding null? What if pascal initiated the duel, and utilized me as a shield? Can wards even duel their sires?
>>
No. 931658 ID: b1b4f3

I wonder, maybe instead of trying to kill him, we should be trying to ruin him? It's a much more feasible goal.
>>
No. 931684 ID: a0bfc1

We might wanna be doing info gathering on Constantine. I think a formal duel is the right way to go, but... ward shielding bad! I may be stupid but theres gotta be a way we can get him to move away from his wards.
Actually, that might be a thing to ask pascal abt- baby knows him personally, knows what he likes, etc. Theres gotta be something constantine would do Anything to get, even if that means dueling lil ol us without his wards
>>
No. 931701 ID: 10c408

>>931658
That is probably the most time consuming and likely practical approach so that he is no longer as untouchable due to his plethora of cradle allies.

And then we kill him afterwards.
>>
No. 931799 ID: 270774
File 155685733906.png - (93.18KB , 800x525 , 466.png )
931799

Ricardo sits for a moment to let it all sink in, but it really doesn’t take him long to have a reply. “If this is supposed to be discouraging me, it’s not working.”

Kel snorts. He leans forward in the chair, a barely-conscious mirror of her own challenging posture. “I mean it. All this just makes it more clear I have to stop him. Whatever it takes, however long it takes. I don’t care.”

“Well, then,” Kel chuckles. “Guess I better train you up good. ”


“You’re endorsing this,” Ricardo accuses.

“I’m not endorsing shit.”

“You’re endorsing me,” Ricardo says, and in the midst of his insistence he’s smiling again — or maybe just unconsciously baring his teeth. It’s something he does more lately. “Alright, come on. What else. You have to know something that’ll help. Past duels, anything. Isn’t ward shielding ever nullified? Aren’t there cases where it isn’t used? Loopholes?”

“Hell’s teeth, you’re a pain in the ass.” She’s smiling, though, too. Or maybe baring her teeth. “There’s a duel I can think of. Not a loophole, not a trick, but a time when a Bathory gave up their shield.”
>>
No. 931800 ID: 270774
File 155685736060.png - (56.89KB , 800x525 , 467.png )
931800

“Even modern humans have heard of Elizabeth Bathory, yeah?”

Ricardo settles back in his chair and nods. “Pascal mentioned her to me, too,” he adds. “But nothing to do with duels. Just… an example of what not to do.”

“Ha! Classic Cradle siring tactic. That’s all she is, anymore. ‘Now, now, young ward, don’t eat like the Countess Bathory, or you’ll be culled for your gluttony,’ right?” Kel’s chair creaks as she slumps back in it, and a loud thump announces her ankle meeting her knee. “Nobles don’t just get chucked in towers to die, Ribeye. There was a trial.”

Ricardo finally takes a sip of the drink Kel’s given him, just to fill the seconds — it’s mead, heavy and sweet. He nods for her to continue.

“And you already know that part of the story. She was taking a hundred times what she needed, scaring all the humans witless, the whole thing. When the rest of her house decided to put a stop to it, she demanded trial by combat. It was obvious why — the evidence was ridiculous. Trying to claim innocence for real would have been a farce. But then, on the duel floor, she demanded farcical terms, anyway.”

“Who was she dueling?” Ricardo asks.

“Will you calm down? I’m gettin’ to it.” Kel’s smile is grim. “It was the Marquess Constantin Bathory — well, he wasn’t a Marquess then, three hundred years ago, but who gives a shit. Her own cousin.”

“How does a vampire have a cousin —”

“Shut up. Let me talk,” Kel snaps. Ricardo shuts up. “He’s the one who decided that she needed to be arrested, when normally this kind of thing would just get hushed up, one way or another. Since he was the one making the accusations, he was the one to be faced in the trial. But, like I said, Elizabeth’s terms were obscene. If she won, not only did she want to walk free — she wanted to be allowed to keep feeding in her preferred style, with no further interference. I guess she just wanted them to figure out how to deal with the panic it caused and the risk of exposure, somehow. And if she lost, she agreed to be imprisoned and starved to death — but she wanted all her wards let free, completely without punishment, even though they were all functionally on trial as well.” Kel runs her thumb back and forth against the rim of her glass. “Fool woman. She could have just asked to save her favorite half-dozen wards, or asked to be let free on a win and agree to a compromise about the feeding, and Constantin might’ve accepted the terms as they were. But nobody would accept terms like the ones she outlined.”
>>
No. 931801 ID: 270774
File 155685737721.png - (55.74KB , 800x525 , 468.png )
931801

“So she gave up her shield,” Kel concludes. “After all, it makes sense, right? Her wager was because she wanted all her wards to survive — could it be taken seriously, for her to throw them all into combat to win their own safety?”

Kel pauses, for a moment; when she speaks again, her tone is slightly more thoughtful. “I didn’t know her well. But we crossed paths, a couple of times, the way you do. Enough for me to get a feeling. I don’t think she was sacrificing herself or anything like that. Woman like that, I think she really thought she would win.”

Ricardo is incredulous. “Against sixty other vampires, back to back?”

“Well. She made it through about thirty of them, before she succumbed to her injuries. A handful of decoratives who barely count, since they didn’t manage to injure her, but plenty of duelists. She lost when they pared her down so much she didn’t have limbs to move with or enough blood to regrow them, but it was a blow that Constantin took ages to rebuild from.”
>>
No. 931802 ID: 270774
File 155685739073.png - (73.30KB , 800x525 , 469.png )
931802

Ricardo’s quiet, and Kel sighs. “And you know the rest. Locked away and starved to death — the worst way to die. Cradle scum is Cradle scum, but… well. It’s a damn shame. She was a hell of a woman. And Constantin took her estate, and all her wealth, and her title, and he’s moved up from there.”
>>
No. 931803 ID: 270774
File 155685744479.png - (130.64KB , 800x525 , 470.png )
931803

“So,” Kel concludes, and she takes a moment to stretch her arms above her head. It doesn’t seem she’s one for sitting in one place for long, but she doesn’t seem quite willing to start pacing yet, either. “There you have it. The last time I can remember any Cradle scum not using ward shielding, and it’s not something I can see Constantin ever doing.”

“Then I’ll cheat,” Ricardo replies immediately. Kel stops mid-stretch, quirking an eyebrow at him. “Or I’ll find a way to draw him out alone, so he can’t use them as a shield. Or I won’t duel him at all. I’ll sneak in and assassinate him, and then we don’t have to worry about rules.”

“Ribeye,” Kel starts, the name broken up by an incredulous laugh, but Ricardo continues.

“Or I’ll play the long game. I’ll make my own damn house, with my own rules, if that’s what it takes to bring him down. If I can’t fight him, I’ll ruin him. Make his allies leave. Turn his wards against him, one at a time, if I have to. Til he has nothing, and then there’s nothing standing between him and me.” He fixes Kel with an unwavering gold gaze, unmoved by the amusement on her face. “What? Don’t I have the time to spare?”

“You’re just listing every idea that pops into your head, aren’t you, Ribeye?”

“So what if I am?” Ricardo retorts. “I’ve got time for that, too.”

“Well, I don’t,” Kel mutters. She closes her eyes and exhales through her nose, seeming to come to a kind of acceptance. “So you’re actually serious about it. Fine. Cross that bridge when we get to it, I suppose.” She flicks her eyes back up to him, eyebrows raised again. “You got any other questions about your future suicide mission, or can we talk about Donnie?”
>>
No. 931805 ID: c1eaac

no further questions for now, but we'll almost definitely have more in the future. let's talk about whatever else kel wants to give us the rundown on, while she's still in a giving mood
>>
No. 931806 ID: 7e9c89

probably best to discuss other things for now, while she seems 2 be ina good mood / accepting
>>
No. 931807 ID: b1b4f3

>>931803
I think we're good.
>>
No. 931808 ID: aedfd9

No more questions! Let's listen to what Kel has to say. She's been REALLY good about listening to us instead of throwing us out on our ear, now is the time to be humble and respectful
>>
No. 931809 ID: 7011e0

i think we're good enough for now. donnie?
>>
No. 931810 ID: 2904f7

were good! who's that?
>>
No. 931812 ID: 70df1e

actually ask if pascal can challenge constantin to the duel.

if pascal uses ward shielding, the only one who gets to fight is you. and constantin can't touch him unless you lose - which is fine, because if you lose then the both of you are going to die anyway. kels pretty much outlined what constantin was about to do with pascal, so why not try this? doesnt solve the problem of taking the bathory house apart piece by piece, but it does solve keeping pascal out of the duel.

although now that i think about it, maybe we could duel on our own time and terms? challenge each individual member of house bathory to duels, not just constantin. take out all his shields individually (hes legally not allowed to retaliate, right?) and then go up against him when he's had too many losses to keep sending out more. if he sires everyone, then his wards cant use his other wards as shields.
>>
No. 931813 ID: fde9cb

I think we should at least ask about Brazilian duel rules before we move on. Bathory duels are sadistic and Brooklyn rules are seen as immature, so hopefully we can use Brazilian as a middle ground between the two.
>>
No. 931814 ID: ea82cb

Someone like Kel could've done something with a vampire like Elizabeth. With the Cradle that end was all but inevitable.

No I don't think there's anything else. We've bugged her enough for today, we can ask about dueling rules later.
>>
No. 931815 ID: 7d60d3

Nah. Go ahead.

(We can ask about Brazil rules later during actual dueling lessons)
>>
No. 931821 ID: b2a17a

Ask her how we should bring this up to Pascal/if she thinks we should bring this up. He still has some amount of loyalty, Kel even mentioned he would probably be very hurt by watching his fellow ornaments be killed.

We want to protect our pretty sire without a huge emotional blow, Kel doesn't seem the type to care excessively about doing emotional clean up after a decision is made but it wouldn't hurt to ask for advice.
>>
No. 931824 ID: b463f2

I definitely agree with mentioning that we want to know Brazilian rules, but also that we don't need them right away.

...and yeah, who's Donnie?
>>
No. 933142 ID: 270774
File 155813911902.png - (88.27KB , 800x525 , 471.png )
933142

“I’ve got some other stuff I’m curious about, like Brazilian rules or other things I might be able to use, but we can talk about it later.” Ricardo glances at his drink and decides he doesn’t want the rest, setting it back on the desk and earning a disapproving look from Kel. “Who’s Donnie?”

“Donata,” Kel corrects herself abruptly. “Boss Luciano.”

“...Right,” says Ricardo.

“I haven’t paid your courtesy levy,” she says, barreling past any further questions on that front. “You’re gonna have to figure that out yourself. Dealing with vampires takes muscle and diplomacy. I’m no good at the diplomacy shit, that’s why I’ve got wards who can do it — like Mignon. You’re just gonna have to rely on yourself, so you have to prove you can do it. I can put a sword in your hand and some weight behind your punch, but I can’t teach you how to deal with these people, and if you can’t figure it out yourself, you’re not gonna survive anyway.”

“Sure,” says Ricardo, a little uncertainly. He’s pretty sure he’s closer to Kel’s camp than Mignon’s when it comes to socialization. “What are courtesy levies, anyway? I saw them mentioned on a rule sheet that was left in our room, but it didn’t explain anything. It was like they expected us to already know what they are.”

“Oh, common den thing. But a much bigger deal here in Vegas than it usually is elsewhere.” Kel gestures, vaguely, in a way that seems meant to indicate the rest of the city, far outside the bounds of the hotel. “Think of it this way. Vegas is a paradise for our kind, right? Alive at night, high crime rate that we can blend into, and it’s packed to the gills with humans who came here to take a risk. It’s practically an all you can eat buffet. So why isn’t it completely overrun with vampires? Why didn’t vampires clean the place out and eat all the food decades ago?”

Ricardo furrows his brow and makes a guess. “Because… the den regulates it?”

Kel slaps the desk, leaning back in her chair. “Got it. The den has rules, and enough power to go after people who break them. And they charge a fee for visitors, the way all dens do — on the surface, as a way to thank them for their hospitality, but in practice, actually a way to make it too expensive for you to just sit on your ass leeching off their resources. They make themselves a place you can only afford to visit for a while, not a place where you feel like you can muscle in and take a piece of the pie. And they take it very seriously.” She pauses, fingers drumming against the wood for a moment. “I think the rest of the rules are pretty reasonable. No snitching, no killing each other at random in the hallways, no stealing from your hosts — none of that is out of line, in my opinion.”

“Yeah, Pascal thought it ended up working out pretty well in our favor,” Ricardo admits. “Especially the thing about not being able to talk about who you see here, or what they’re doing.”

Kel blinks at him. “Are you saying you didn’t pick Vegas because of that rule? I thought this was on purpose.”

“No, he just…” Ricardo rubs at his temple, glancing away. “He just thought it would be fun.”

“Don’t let him get his way that easily, this soon,” Kel chides him. “But anyway, the important thing is that nondisclosure rule doesn’t protect you til you’ve paid your dues, so you want this done sooner rather than later — and it’s not safe for you to just grab the first casino waitress you see and ask about it. If you have to work the entire chain up, there’s no way you won’t run across someone who decides the price the Cradle might pay for you is worth more than their loyalty to the den. You need to talk directly to someone close to Donata, skip as many steps as you can.”

“I don’t suppose you could just introduce us to ‘Donnie,’ huh,” Ricardo points out dryly.

“Fuck you. Be self-sufficient,” Kel snaps.

He groans, running a hand through his hair. “Fine. Make a damn puzzle out of it, I guess.”

“Puzzles make mice smarter or something. Mignon said something like that once. Anyway, I’ll give you a week. Any longer than that and they’ll get angry about it, plus it means you don’t have what it takes to navigate vampire society as it is and there’s no point in me training you. I’ll at least give you shorter training days for that week, so you can spend the rest of your time figuring it out.”

“Great.” Ricardo has gone back to massaging his temples. “Get an audience with the boss of the den in a week, by asking as few people as possible, or you pull the plug. Got it. Awesome. Can I get an estimate on how much this is going to cost, once I get that meeting?”
>>
No. 933143 ID: 270774
File 155813913450.png - (145.50KB , 800x525 , 472.png )
933143

“Oh, I dunno,” Kel says. “I’ve been training wards here on and off for the past few decades, so Donn— so Boss Luciano and I have an arrangement. I dunno what the going rate is nowadays for strangers. But I’m gonna guess, especially for dangerous strangers like Cradle fugitives, it’s gonna be more than you could dream of affording.”

Ricardo lets out a short, frustrated exhale. “Then what do you expect us to do?”

“Figure it out. Y’know, a shifter’s only useful in combat if they’re wicked intelligent.”

“Alright. Alright.” Ricardo presses his back against the chair, trying to regain some kind of clarity and composure. “Fine. I’ll figure it out. We’ll get it done. Anything else I should know about Vegas? Like, where to feed if we need more than the one per week limit, or anything I should avoid doing. I always feel like there’s a hundred pitfalls I could stumble into because nobody’s told me anything.”

“Oh, you can feed anywhere you want, as long as you’re not disrupting the hotel,” Kel tells him. “They just want their posh little buffet left well-stocked for everybody, but outside the Silver Crown you can do whatever you like as long as you don’t cause a panic. As for anything else you should know… eh, I guess just again remembering that those rules only protect you around people who care about staying on Donata’s good side. Which is most everybody, but it’s better to be cautious.” A beat, as she drums her fingers again and thinks. “Oh, not that I think you would, but don’t go out into the desert. There’s a pack of werewolves out there.”

“Werewolves,” Ricardo echoes, tiredly. “There are werewolves.”

“Yeah, so—”

“Pascal said werewolves aren’t dangerous,” Ricardo probes.

“They aren’t. Pascal is the problem, actually, not them.” Kel sighs, gathering her hair up in both hands and tossing it over her shoulder. “He hunts those things for sport, and he’ll go nuts if he finds out there’s a pack nearby, especially since he’ll be bored with you always in training. Now, out in the middle of the damn woods in Europe where there’s hundreds of the things, fine, whatever, but here it’s more —” She flaps her hand dismissively. “It’s a delicate ecosystem, I guess. If he wipes them out the jackalopes will get the plague or something.”

“Okay, fine. I won’t let Pascal cause an ecological crisis by… slaughtering werewolves,” Ricardo promises. There is a weariness in him that refuses to abate. “Anything else? Any other supernatural creatures that shouldn’t exist, but do, and that need to be kept in balance? Lake Mead monster? Witches?”
>>
No. 933144 ID: 270774
File 155813914868.png - (143.79KB , 800x525 , 473.png )
933144

Kel looks up at him sharply, eyes narrowed. “What do you know about witches?”

“Nothing. It’s a joke—”

Kel’s leaning forward, halfway risen from her chair. “You wanna learn about witches?”

“Not really,” says Ricardo, desperately.

She’s already standing up, phone in hand. “Text Pascal,” she says. “Or call him, whatever’s faster, fuck knows how long it’s taking him to get used to typing — tell him to come up to the ballroom, and to bring the gift I got him.”

“What gift? Kel—”

Kel already has her phone up to her ear. “Mignon, get the girls back into the ballroom, with Lamb suited up.” She’s grinning. “Ribeye doesn’t know about witches.”
>>
No. 933145 ID: 7e9c89

oh no. oh no. first off: PASCAL HUNTS WEREWOLVES?? how much can we even count on him not finding out, he doesnt rly know anyone here but, like she said: hes gonna be very bored
second, THIS IS SO CONCERNING. BRACE FOR IMPACT and ig think thru whatever stories u kno personally abt witches even if they might not apply irl since we havent talked abt em yet..
>>
No. 933146 ID: 70df1e

learn about witches

but also kel is calling mignon and apparently mignon is the one who negotiated FOR her, so maybe we can ask mignon for some tips or an in with the local vamp family? Kel said SHE wouldn't help, she didn't say anything about her wards
>>
No. 933147 ID: ea82cb

You'll probably best start with Mignon for the diplomacy quest you're on, if she's that good at it. Kel is definitely going to limit her assistance but maybe you can get something, training at least, from her.

Plus you gotta keep an eye on Pascal too. Have some plan to make time for him when he inevitably stumbles on the werewolf situation, so that he doesn't screw up the environment.

And now for the current issue, turn into mist and flee.
>>
No. 933148 ID: 7011e0

guess we're learning about witches!!! and OH BOY LAMB IS COMING i'm excited
>>
No. 933150 ID: 3e7944

>>933144
AHHH this so exciting. Vampires, witches, Lamb *eyes emojii*
first thought is kel sexy

second thought is about how to find a higher up, is there any kind of management office we can go to? visitor services?
>>
No. 933156 ID: d7f01b

time to learn about witches! let's ask mignon and maybe sirloin for diplomacy tips and tricks while everyone is together, they seem like they would be able to help us the most. pascal might know a thing or two about how to get to the top, too.
>>
No. 933157 ID: c7f906

Remind yourself again, how long has it been since you've had any control over your life?

Text Pascal: 'help i opened my big mouth and told Kel i don't know about witches, now she says bring your gift to the ballroom FYI everyone is going to be there'
>>
No. 933158 ID: c1be4a

If the note was left in the room about visitor dues, it would be reasonable to ask the front desk folks about it - you can frame it like you already know where to go and just need the connect! Might be a good ol fashion clue.

But first go see lamb being sexi
>>
No. 933165 ID: b463f2

Hmm. Who can we find, that's close to Donata.... something to ask Pascal about - there's a chance he knows something useful, about vampire den structures if not about this specific den. He also might have some idea of what we can do or offer that might possibly touch the large price we will likely have to pay for dues...

Definitely seems better to leave well enough alone with the weres here - I'd love to meet wolves eventually, I just feel like we have enough on our plate without chasing up more trouble, and trying to meet them without Pascal hurting them (and the ecosystem).

Also... Kel big sexy.... lov that leg hair.....

Call Pascal! I want to know what the gift is, and what Lamb being Suited Up means....
>>
No. 933177 ID: dd83df

CONFUSING YET EXCITING!!! are witches allies???? can vampires be witches????
>>
No. 933182 ID: 14e641

She's so excited and now im hyped to learn about witches!
Better call Pascal, texting him would take to long if he wants to reply.
Some money making ideas....we could go casino hopping. With Pascal's hypnosis and some caution we can rack up the cash. Just don't win to big to fast anywhere.
>>
No. 933199 ID: 10c408

"You know, this is another reason why I'd like to kill Constantin. Five years being shafted on the vampire world information front is something you just don't DO to someone, even if their existence is a freaking eyesore."
>>
No. 933238 ID: f39703

let's! hear! about! witches!
>>
No. 933239 ID: f39703

>>933238
also i hope the gift is a sexy witch costume
>>
No. 933261 ID: 094652

Might as well ask about psychics and aliens. And weretigers. And Zombie-Vamps. And literal parasites that affect all of the above.
>>
No. 933268 ID: b54723

Ask Kel if we can do luck spells, for uh. Just in case! Y'know.

Also ask if we can summon demons and fuck them.
>>
No. 933271 ID: aedfd9

Aaaaaaa there's a lot to process here but let's do that later bc I'm so excited to see Ricardo get his ass kicked by some witches (maybe????)

Call Pascal like Kel told you to and ask him if he can give you a heads up for whatever's about to happen
>>
No. 933317 ID: 262f3a

jfc im scared of witches already. Pascal said mortals haven't been a threat for centuries but now kel is ranting about witches and prepping the catholic vampire wtf.
>>
No. 933348 ID: 10c408

>>933317
I'm pretty sure that Kel is seizing the opportunity presented by Ricardo's ignorance to, well, subject him to further humility.

He is still "fresh meat" that needs to be "tenderized", after all.

anywho... Honestly, Kel's task for figuring out the dues sounds a lot like social spying. We'll probably have to do a lot of eavesdropping and listening on to the workers but it can be done.
>>
No. 933399 ID: b2a17a

bro WITCHES?! we gotta get some good witch content goddamn i hope they're hot and nasty, also definitely call pascal, if he's in the bath or taking a nap he won't notice a text
>>
No. 933538 ID: 270774
File 155840580908.png - (114.27KB , 800x525 , 474.png )
933538

It seems cut and dry, so Ricardo sighs and pulls out his phone. Pascal picks up after a few rings — Ricardo has time to wonder if he had difficulty figuring out how to answer the call.

“Hello, hello, Ricardo! How nice that the telephone tells me it is you calling, right from the beginning, so I can greet you properly! Like being properly introduced before you are escorted into a room. That’s how things should be, you know—”

“Yeah, yeah, hey, Pascal,” Ricardo cuts in, before he can prattle any further. “Kel wants you to come back down to the ballroom, said she has something to show me about… witches, I guess. She said to bring the gift she got you, whatever that means—”

“Oh, that fucking hag,” says Pascal.

“Uh.”

“Sorry, Ricardo! Sorry, I lost my temper a little. I was hoping to be having maybe just a little time for rest, because I am still tired and irritable from traveling, but I suppose there is no resting with this woman.” Pascal sighs, and Ricardo hears rustling in the background. “So, very well. I will be there shortly! Ugh, I have nothing to wear.”

“I just bought you about three whole bags of clothes,” Ricardo points out. “Less than a week ago.”

“Nothing to wear for this!

“Yeah, about that, what is this?”

“A duel, probably,” Pascal replies, sounding beleaguered, and then with a faint goodbye he hangs up.
>>
No. 933539 ID: 270774
File 155840583243.png - (113.07KB , 800x525 , 475.png )
933539

By the time the phone call is over Kel is already disappearing out the office door, so Ricardo shoves his phone back in his pocket and jogs to catch up with her.

“Witches, huh,” he says, as he falls in step beside her. “So what’s — I mean, what? Is a witch here. Am I going to fight a witch.” A brief pause. “Is Lamb a—”

“Only living human women can be witches.” Kel is practically power-walking, and her legs are longer than Ricardo’s. He’s trying not to break into a jog again mostly for the sake of his own dignity. “So no, she’s not, and neither is any other vampire on earth. We can’t use magic period, seeing as we’re fucking dead.”

“Kel, I can turn into mist. Pascal can hypnotize people.”

“That’s not magic,” Kel scoffs, and then she offers no further expansion on where that particular threshold lies. “Anyway, vamps can’t be witches, but vamps and witches have a long history together all the same, at least in Europe, and then the byproducts of it spread. It centered in Europe because of Christianity — a lot to do with the concept that vampires are servants of Satan, or born of the unbaptized, all that bullshit. So way back when, witches, who often considered the pact they’d made with magic as a pact with Satan, thought we were on the same team.”

They get to the ballroom first, seeing as the office was only around the corner, and Ricardo follows her up onto the balcony as she continues speaking. “And, uh, to be honest, we didn’t do much to disavow that. It was a nice perk, right? You can’t use magic, but these broads think you’re a prince of hell or something, so they do it for you. And for free! It was good while it lasted, I’m not gonna lie.”

Ricardo leans against the railing. His head hurts about as much as it did the first time Pascal tried to catch him up on an entire alternate history in one night. “So what happened?”

“What always happens, Ribeye. Progress, time, research. Of course they ended up figuring it out — that even if they still believed in Satan, it has nothing to do with us. And some of ‘em left pretty upset that we’d been milking their services, and I can’t blame ‘em. But others kept on doing the work we needed, if we could pay what it was worth.” Kel settles next to him, cracking her knuckles against the railing. “And that’s what you’re about to see.”
>>
No. 933540 ID: 270774
File 155840585376.png - (122.07KB , 800x525 , 476.png )
933540

The door to the ballroom opens again and Kel’s wards file in. Mignon in front, looking stately and calm; Sirloin, Strip, and Rack all chatting, hands moving constantly as they overlap each other; and Lamb brings up the rear, a few steps behind, in a black velvet cape that doesn’t align with the others’ casual wear. Everyone but Lamb follows the staircase up to the balcony, settling on either side of Kel and Ricardo. Lamb stays centered on the parquet floor, turning to face the door and then remaining motionless.

“Drama queen,” Strip mutters, from Ricardo’s left. Mignon laughs softly, patting her arm.

“We’re vampires, my dear. It’ll always be this way.”
>>
No. 933541 ID: 270774
File 155840591935.png - (61.49KB , 800x525 , 477.png )
933541

Pascal arrives before Ricardo has a chance to ask Mignon or anyone else what exactly is going to happen, which is surprising — he’d definitely expected his sire to be late. He looks a little bored as he walks in, and when he notices Lamb waiting, he looks up to the balcony, one hand on his hip.

“Hello, Mignon? Why are you not down here?” He waves one arm above his head, impatiently. “If this is about witch-blades, shall I not do it with you?”

Mignon laughs again, leaning easily against the railing. “She has one.”

Pascal’s brow pulls together immediately. “Excuse me?” Now both hands are on his hips, and he swivels on his heels to give Lamb a critical look. “Hello, Lamb! Can you be explaining to me, perhaps, why you have a—”
>>
No. 933542 ID: 270774
Audio - (3.34MB - 192 kbps - 44.1 kHz ) Length: 2:26
933542

bloody purity - eyemedia
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No. 933543 ID: 270774
File 155840595607.png - (91.03KB , 800x525 , 478.png )
933543

{Burn Paradise,} says Lamb.
>>
No. 933544 ID: 270774
File 155840599587.png - (76.57KB , 800x525 , 479.png )
933544

Ricardo leans forward, startled, straining his already attuned hearing. It’s nearly impossible to describe what he’s just heard — it was a voice that suits Lamb, though he realizes this is the first time he’s ever heard her speak aloud. The words, though, are completely unfamiliar. It’s a language he knows he’s never heard, and now that he’s thinking of it he can’t even seem to grasp what the sounds were to try to repeat them to himself, and yet he truly did feel, in the pit of his chest, that he understood them. That he understood them better than he can express, even — that the English words “burn paradise” are the feeblest possible attempt of his consciousness to name the understanding that welled up in him. These thoughts happen in a blur, and before he can put them in order the language is spoken again, this time in a sibilant, toneless voice.

{Four.} The voice comes from beneath Lamb’s cape, the edges of which have lifted and now flutter in some unseen wind. {Four.}
>>
No. 933545 ID: 270774
File 155840601705.png - (68.30KB , 800x525 , 480.png )
933545

Pascal seems surprised but unimpressed by the proceedings. He’s tapping his foot. “Oh, I see, hide it under your cloak, very clever — Kel, where on earth did she get this? I think you are only giving these to your, euuuhh — is it lieutenants? Well, your important officers, and she is not!”

“I didn’t give it to her. She had it before she died,” Kel calls down. “She was a hunter.”

A moment of silence hangs between them, and then Pascal snorts. “No, she is not. I already know she is only Ricardo’s age.”

“And she was a hunter,” Kel insists.

Pascal rolls his eyes so hard that Ricardo can see it from the balcony. “Kel, there are none. Already the Cradle has wiped them out a century ago, which, by the way, nobody has ever thanked us for—”

Kel shrugs broadly, smiling. “You missed a spot.”

Pascal digests this for a moment, and whether he believes it or just gets too distracted by his next thought to care is unclear. “And you would have had my ward fight her, if he so choose!” He points accusingly up at the balcony. “When he is unarmed, not even with a normal weapon!”

Kel shrugs again. “Sometimes your enemy is armed and you aren’t.”

“He could have died! Oh, now I am angry at you.” Pascal is pacing a tight little circuit back and forth, ignoring Lamb’s relentless stare. “Oh, Kel, I am angry at you now. I don’t like you treating him so lightly.”

“Well, vent some aggression,” she suggests. “Listen, it’ll be educational.

Pascal gives her a final reproachful look, then turns his glance to Ricardo. “I don’t want you to have one of these, okay? This is just to show you, so you know about them.”
>>
No. 933546 ID: 270774
File 155840603867.png - (102.38KB , 800x525 , 481.png )
933546

Then, in one sharp movement, Pascal grasps the heart pendant around his neck and snaps the chain.

His other hand rises to meet it, clasping the pendant between both palms, and when he speaks, it’s the same indescribable language as before. {Bitterhearted.}

His hands draw away from each other, slowly, and from the heart of the object a hilt and a blade grow towards his palms. It’s a rapier, glittering silver, with an ornate spiraled hilt, and a few moments later it’s grown to its full length, the glass heart impaled on the blade near the guard.

{Blood for blood,} hisses the sword.
>>
No. 933547 ID: 270774
File 155840606182.png - (109.14KB , 800x525 , 482.png )
933547

“Sword’s talking,” says Ricardo, with a voice pulled tight as a bowstring. “That sword’s talking.”

{Neglectful wielder,} the sword continues, scornfully. {How long you’ve left me to languish. I thirst!}

“Anybody else?” Ricardo looks up and down the line pressed against the railing, fighting off an edge of weary desperation. “Anybody else bothered by the sword talking, or is that just me?”

“Well, I’m sorry, Bitterhearted,” Pascal sighs, placing a quick kiss against the flat of the blade. “I have not been having any reason to use you!”

{Speak not my name in the common tongue! How you besmirch me! To what filth you subject me!} Ricardo swears the sword is practically vibrating in Pascal’s hand. {Lazy, ungrateful creature!}

“The sword,” Ricardo says again, hoarsely.

“Yeah, they do that,” Kel says. “Some of ‘em are chattier than others. Lamb’s usually doesn’t have much to say.” She gestures down at the floor, where Pascal is giving the sword a few experimental twirls to loosen up his arm. “That, Ribeye, is a witch-blade. Forged by a witch out of the wielder’s own heartsblood, fixed on a goal the wielder chooses, and bound to an object they can carry with them. Real fuckin’ useful nowadays, since you can’t just carry a normal sword around without drawing attention.”

“Okay. Okay. Magic sword. Fine.” Ricardo rolls his neck, as if cracking it could reset his brain and make this easier to swallow. “Why do they talk.

“Hell, I don’t know. I’m not a witch. But I know they’re entities all their own, with personalities and thoughts and — well, I guess kind of free will. As much free will as you can have in that kind of state. They can choose not to be drawn, though, if you piss ‘em off too much, and they’re stronger if you’re close to them, so it’s best to be respectful.” Kel turns to look at him, smirking. “You want one? They run about one point five million USD, lately.”

“That’s about the same price as a single subsonic long-range cruise missile,” Mignon adds serenely. “A bargain, I think, for a thinking, feeling thing.”

“I—” Ricardo keeps his eyes on the ballroom floor, unsure of how to even respond to that. The sword, apparently, has good hearing.

{Wretched woman! You debase me! I am a priceless thing, forged by the dread witch Amity! I am unrivaled!}

Kel snorts. “Yeah, and adjusting for inflation, you cost me about two million dollars.”

“Kel, please don’t provoke it,” Pascal mutters.
>>
No. 933548 ID: 270774
File 155840608453.png - (163.57KB , 800x525 , 483.png )
933548

Lamb clears her throat, loudly, and the bickering stops. Pascal laughs airly, turning back to her.

“How rude of us! I am sorry. I would love to see your Burn Paradise.” Pascal twirls Bitterhearted again, loosely, and the blade sings in the air. “Clever, like I said, to hide your blade from your enemies, but this is only a friendly spar.”

“You are not my friend.” Lamb’s voice is about as heavily accented as Pascal’s; German, Ricardo thinks, though it’s hard to tell when her tone is obscured by a whispery rasp. “You are my work.”

Her hand fists on the front closure of her cape, and with one sharp movement of her arm she rips it open. Silver glints from the lining, and a chained stake glints in her hand, the shackle disappearing somewhere in the folds of fabric. “My most holy and necessary work.”
>>
No. 933549 ID: 270774
File 155840610608.png - (145.23KB , 800x525 , 484.png )
933549

Pascal whistles, low. Kel’s watching with amused interest. “A hunter, like I said,” she calls down. Then her attention is back on Ricardo. “She’s a weapons specialist, Lamb. Vampire-killing weaponry is her — what did she call it. Her special interest. She knew almost everything there was to know about witch-blades before I even found her.”

She leans over the railing again, one hand cupped around her mouth. “Remember, Lamb, he’s under my protection. That agreement we have about free kills doesn’t apply. Just have some fun.”

Lamb makes a throaty, irritable little noise in the back of her throat, and Kel chuckles. “Well, anyway. I’m sure you have plenty of questions. Pay attention to the duel, but we can chat while they fight.”
>>
No. 933551 ID: b54723

god damn. god damn. okay. so what's that thing kel got anyway? And is turning into the things the only things witch blades can do? Or are there other things it can do? (storing spells would be cool but I mean i doubt we could cast them anyway)

And HOW does the witch get the blood out of her heart, I mean I doubt Kel knows about how but heartblood implies its directly from the heart and ghtb can someone get me im FLOATING AWAY i have SO many questions also pascal WHERE did you get that anyway???
>>
No. 933553 ID: 10c408

"Okay, first question then. Now that you know about my smoke trick, how bad were my odds if I had picked Lamb instead of Rack?"

Let's uh, all be thankful we did NOT end up picking Lamb and having to fight an undead vampire hunter.
>>
No. 933554 ID: 7011e0

I AM LOSING MY MIND THIS IS SO COOL ask more about the witchblades oh my GOD
>>
No. 933555 ID: 3272af

holy fucking SHIT. ask what more they can do but watch super carefully?? and, it almost sounded like kel bought pascal’s for him?
>>
No. 933560 ID: b1b4f3

>>933549
Comment on how much it must suck for Lamb to have been turned into what she hunts. Or does she think of it as a combat advantage? A boon for the greater good?

Ask what kind of purposes witch-blades have. Is it something general like "to cut my enemies"? Do they have more power the more specific the purpose is?
>>
No. 933564 ID: 70df1e

dude we GOTTA get one of these. oh my god. i know pascal said not but like look at it. we NEED one
>>
No. 933567 ID: 4b5650

who is amity? i assume she's one of the witches who's willing to do what we ask for pay: could we get in contact w/her? even if we don't get a witchblade maybe we can get something else from her

also, here's another question- witches are humans, right. what makes vampires not go...and basically treat them the same way they do werewolves (as in: 'particularly tough to eat snack'?)- like vampires seem the type to try to get what they want through shows of force, what about the witches (other than, i assume, the weapons, or is it just the weapons?) makes them treat them less like that
also what was that language. was it a language. can we learn it. was it something divine. do /angels/ exist here
>>
No. 933571 ID: e9c0df

HOOOOOLLLLLYYYY SHIT THIS OWNS..... I AM SO EXCITED.... WHAT THE FUCK

so! are witches Born Magic or are they human women who learn it? are they immortal, like, do they need to eat? OH AND... if vampire affinities like hypnotism only work on humans, does that include witches or no?
>>
No. 933577 ID: 14e641

Seconded, ask her qbout the fight with Rack. How sol wouod we have been if we had pucked Lamb?
Then i guess ask beyond the talking and hidung what's so great avout witch blades?
>>
No. 933584 ID: 262f3a

>>933549
"So these things seem really... menacing I guess? How are they better then any old sword or whip though?"
>>
No. 933589 ID: 23dc9d

Ask that since Lamb used to be a hunter, did she hunt Kel down to be her ward or to kill her?
>>
No. 933592 ID: 869963

IS PASCAL GONNA BE OKAY :((((
>>
No. 933596 ID: 9fcd43

Oh my god this just got like five thousand percent more anime I'm so happy

Why did she give one to Pascal, if they're so rare and valuable? What happens if a witch gets turned into a vampire, do they just stop being a witch? How common are these things - more specifically, how much do we need to worry about other vampires pulling them out in everyday duels?
>>
No. 933599 ID: 3e7944

>>933549
This is so fucking cool, and I can not wait until we get to play as Lamb.

I also just love how you draw ponytails, pascals hair looks so good ahhh

Questions:
How do witches magic work, is it innate or learned or a bit of both?
Magic and/or vamp hunting based around Christianity only or are there other religions that play into it?
Why would she buy such an expensive gift for Pascal?
Are witches a thing we should be worried about as a threat from those searching for us?
>>
No. 933609 ID: 465a14

Why does Lamb keep up the charade? She obviously doesn't believe anymore, or her own fancy outfit would be peeling her skin off or whatever.
>>
No. 933612 ID: 10c408

>>933609
Uh. Say what now?

Honestly, we don't know Lamb's full story. We can infer quite a bit of it, but that's not the same as knowing.

However, my assumption is that Lamb really wants to hunt vampires again but Kel won't let her and Kel hasn't offed Lamb for a plethora of reasons that are hard to nail down until we ask someone who knows.
>>
No. 933621 ID: e3a778

>>933609
She pretty clearly is badly burned by contact with crosses, though. That’s what those huge marks all over her body are.

Anyway, we should ask about:
1. The benefits of witch-blades besides conversation and looking cool
2. How common witch-blades are
3. More information on Amity
4. Why Kel bought Pascal a $2,000,000 sword (Does it have something to do with the fact that decorative wards aren’t supposed to learn combat?)
5. How do we get one???

Also, anybody have theories on the card suits?
>>
No. 933623 ID: 094652

>That’s not magic
Screw you; plasmids, nano-augments, and neuromods have one thing in common: they're kick-ass superpowers that required extensive R&D to develop. If that's not wizard magic enough for you, go argue with a vampire quantum physicist.

>if they still believed in Satan
... I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry. Probably laugh.

>the Cradle has wiped them out a century ago
Riiight. As if ancient conspiracies weren't revivable.

>>933609
In theory, she needs to tell herself she still believes to quell the vampire-hating voices in her head telling her to crucify herself while [actually this next part is just creepy].

Or maybe she just wants to look ironically hot.

Either way, pay attention to the witchblades. With a little ingenuity you could commission a witchblade meant for other means - like hacking the Cradle's tech defenses. Think about it; they'll add ward security to their computers but that's exponentially more complicated. They WILL make mistakes. Mistakes an AI can capitalize on.
>>
No. 933635 ID: f62d1c

questions for kel:
- why would a devout vampire hunter become a vampire?
- aside from talking, what advantages does a witch blade have over a normal weapon?
- why doesn't pascal want us to have our own witch blade?
>>
No. 933656 ID: ea82cb

What's the big, secret downside to the witchblades? And is Lamb equal opportunity vampire killer, as in she doesn't care that Ricardo didn't want to be one and is generally a good boy?
>>
No. 933665 ID: 15ee9e

ohhh is Lamb's crucifix her witch blade thats so cool im digging the guilty catholic aes. pay close attention to the duel, but def ask about how we can get our hands on a witchblade. also why pascal wouldnt want us to have one
>>
No. 933698 ID: 853e99

hey what the fuck. how does a vampire hunter choose to become a vampire
>>
No. 933765 ID: eb66b1

"I thought that as one of Constantin's ornamental wards, Pascal wasn't allowed to know how to use weapons. What's with the sword, then?"
>>
No. 933831 ID: 696454

maybe it's not so surprising that witchblades are as talkative, or not, as the blood that made them. does the fact that lamb had her weapon prior to being turned imply that witches will work readily with humans?

can witchblades only be drawn by the people from whom they were made? is there a way to estimate how many vampires currently have them?

seconding asking how witchblades provide an advantage aside from portability, since it seems you can still overpower a vampire with (checks chapter one) two very good tommy guns (with the right bullets, at least). (don't ask this but can a witchblade just be a gun. skldsnlkn)

also seconding asking about how lamb came to be a ward, since what kel said in our earlier meeting would imply that lamb had to have hunted her down and asked for it. but kel's also just said that by the time she found lamb, lamb already knew a lot.

but i'd rather we not ask up front how to get our own witchblade. first off kel's just going to laugh at us for pretending to have 1.5 million dollars to spare (we haven't even figured out how to pay our levy lmao), and there seems to be a personal price to obtaining a witchblade, besides. getting some more info/lore is tempting, and we should learn about witches since we're here, but pascal literally just asked us to Not have one of these, and he can hear us.
>>
No. 934566 ID: 58c855

What happens if a witch gets turned? Are witchblades more responsive if wielded by the person who made them, and can other items be created thru the same process? (like, say, a witch-shield, or a witch-flamethrower, or even nonweapons like a paintbrush to produce magic paintings)
>>
No. 934722 ID: 26262d

okay so if vampires aren't a "satan thing", why are they burned by crosses ? Lamb is burned but she has a witchblade, which is a satanic thing so uh yeah maybe we should call Bunji and ask him ih he ga one too, since he also was burned by a cross ?
>>
No. 934782 ID: b0b724

>>934722
It's a belief thing, I think. She has faith, so the crosses burn.
>>
No. 934875 ID: deddc1

Fight fight fight fight fight!!!!!!!
>>
No. 934939 ID: 6b66cf

>Only living human women can be witches.

hey ricardo, think your mom would want to learn how to be a witch?
>>
No. 935347 ID: 599088
Audio - (3.66MB - 192 kbps - 44.1 kHz ) Length: 2:40
935347

friction — mili
>>
No. 935348 ID: 599088
File 156020397604.png - (132.72KB , 800x525 , 485.png )
935348

“Alright. Okay. First question.” Ricardo’s hands are tense against the railing; but this is just how things are going to be, he reasons. More and more bullshit, all of it completely outside of the bounds of reality, and his only option to adapt. “What would my chances have been, if I’d tried to fight Lamb?”

“Grim,” says Kel. She doesn’t sound remorseful.

“Would letting me die on the first try have been great training?”

“Part of training is learning to navigate your fights. If you don’t know enough to keep yourself safe, even from somebody as low level as her, then there’s not much I can do for you.”

Ricardo supposes that makes sense, not that he’s thrilled about it. It feels like everything is a test, and it’s exhausting. “Noted. And speaking of her, why would a vampire hunter become a vampire herself? You told me you only turn people who ask.”

Kel chuckles, leaning forward slightly as Pascal and Lamb begin to circle each other. “Come on. Your sire’s taught you the basics, hasn’t he?” Her eyes don’t lift from the duel, and Ricardo keeps his attention there as well. “What’s the only real danger to a vampire?”

Ricardo’s eyes narrow. “Another vampire.”
>>
No. 935349 ID: 599088
File 156020399868.png - (290.64KB , 800x525 , 486.png )
935349

“Like I said, the Cradle missed a spot. I’d heard rumors about a cell of traditional vampire hunters in Thuringia whose ancestors had survived the purge. If it were true, that would be good practice for the girls, and even if it weren’t, there’s plenty to learn out in those forests.”

“By the time we got there, though, another vampire had already found them — and slaughtered everyone but Lamb. By the time he got to her, he’d been weakened enough that she could take him out, and that’s what we found.”

>>
No. 935350 ID: 599088
File 156020401997.png - (314.54KB , 800x525 , 487.png )
935350

“He had a partner who showed up late, and I took her out, since it seemed like a waste to let her kill this little weirdo, you know? And seeing that, can you really blame Lamb for the conclusion she came to?”

“She’d just watched her whole family die just to kill one unarmed vampire, then watched me kill another in one motion. If you’re gonna try to be serious about it, there’s only one real way to go, right?”

>>
No. 935351 ID: 599088
File 156020403594.png - (154.84KB , 800x525 , 488.png )
935351

There’s the first sharp, ringing clash of metal on metal, and Kel drops off. It was hard to follow, but the motion Ricardo gathered was two-part: the chained stake of Burn Paradise shooting across the arena, like a scorpion’s tail, and Pascal swiftly deflecting it.

{Pascal.} Bitterhearted’s voice is deeper than Pascal’s, with a richness and a rasp that its wielder’s airy tone lacks. {That is but a fraction of her blade.}

“What, really?” Pascal adjusts his grip on the hilt, and Ricardo won’t admit to flinching when there’s another flash of gold, this time one that Pascal seems to struggle to deflect. “What do you mean?”

{Do not pester me. I know only that there is more unseen.} A pause. When Bitterhearted speaks again, it sounds — well, bitter. {And it is well-forged. Not as well as I, but—}

“There’s a benefit of witch-blades,” Kel murmurs, nodding down at the floor. “They can assess each other.”

“Huh.” Ricardo watches as a few more probing blows are exchanged. “And I guess that’s why the talking is useful.”

“If they can stay on-topic,” Mignon adds, with a touch of indulgent humor.

“But the real benefit is that a sword with a soul knows how to wield itself.” Kel tenses, and that on its own sharpens Ricardo’s focus on the fight. Pascal closes the gap and makes a vicious thrust at Lamb, one she parries with one of the daggers snatched out of her cloak lining. Her hand sizzles on the crucifix hilt. “You think he knows how to do that all on his own? No. I tried to train him for five years and he was all but hopeless. A witch-blade closes the gap between a duelist and an amateur, if it’s got a forceful enough personality.”
>>
No. 935352 ID: 599088
File 156020405729.png - (143.41KB , 800x525 , 489.png )
935352

The battle is close-quarters now, and Lamb seems agitated by that. A moment later there are two flashes of gold, and Pascal only manages to deflect one of them; there’s a burst of blood from his shoulder and he springs back, hissing.

{Pay attention!} Bitterhearted snaps. Blood streams down Pascal’s left arm and drips off his fingertips, quiet but audible against the glossy floor. {To not draw first blood in my first duel in decades!}

“Shut up,” says Pascal.

Ricardo watches, all his attention on the wound. He’s not worried — not after seeing Pascal rip his own arm off — but something’s off. “Kel. Why isn’t it healing? It’s not that bad of a cut, so—”

“Another benefit.” Pascal and Lamb are circling each other again. “Witch-blades have the same properties as silver, but won’t burn you, the wielder. Wounds made by silver weapons — or witch-blades — don’t regenerate. And silver can’t be manipulated by abilities like telekinesis, which is why our standard weapons even have silver hilts — so a telekinetic can’t rip your sword out of your hand using the grip.”

“Oh, there’s a tip,” Mignon points out lightly. “Anyone who’s always wearing gloves is likely armed.”

“That was a good strike, Lamb,” Pascal calls out, and those on the balcony turn back to the fight. “Kel is teaching you well.”

{It was adequate,} Bitterhearted grumbles.

“No vampire taught me to wield a blade,” Lamb snaps back. She makes another lunge, and Pascal evades her, one leg sweeping in a wide arc that Ricardo recognizes, and Lamb hits the ground hard on one elbow.

“Note that, girls,” Kel says. “Typical Bathory style. All legs. If he had Bathory duelist greaves on, now, that would’ve been nasty.”
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No. 935353 ID: 599088
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