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File 155347318796.png - (44.12KB , 800x700 , 134-titletwo.png )
927154 No. 927154 ID: 688dd6

>Previous thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/530834.html
>Wiki page: https://tgchan.org/wiki/Age_of_Shadows
>Discussion thread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/74609.html

In the East... er, wait... in the East Crescent, a being of great evil... uh, I mean, there was a great Empire, on the edge of the... no... where was I? Damn it. The empire was in the west, wasn't it? I could have sworn it said east... Wait, hold on...

*flip flllip flip*

Right. In the West, there was a great Empire which centuries ago wrested peace from the jaws of war. Its line of rulers was good and just, and that peace was maintained for centuries. That period of order came to an end when a being of terrible evil arrived, and wreaked havoc on the lands.
139 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 929717 ID: 91ee5f

>easing off on poor mister irontail for a while.
I thought we weren’t supposed to let anyone know we were associated with him?
No. 929797 ID: 688dd6
File 155528756275.png - (21.91KB , 700x800 , 185-sit.png )

>I thought you said someone was talking in there.
I never said anything of the sort.

>sit on the sill and try to get his attention
>enter stealthily
The fat rat doesn't look up when I climb inside. Doesn't seem like he's noticed me. After a few awkward moments of wincing in agony waiting for him to raise his head, I give a faint cough.
No. 929798 ID: 688dd6
File 155528757741.png - (15.09KB , 700x800 , 186-writing.png )

Jakob glances at me for a moment, then looks back down at his parchments, dipping the quill in its well. "Ah, you must be the monster. Might I inquire your name?"
No. 929800 ID: b8d5aa

"dionaea, ser softpaw."

be very wary because if he was expecting you, he will be prepared. this may be a trap.
No. 929802 ID: 977456

Is there any name-based magic or a chronicle of demons that would give reason to not throw your real name around? I would avoid the name you gave Reinhold though. They might discuss new faces...

>mundane object will pierce me, but can't hurt
So... You could go through a keyhole? Provided that there was sufficient force pushing you through, and the keyhole was sturdy enough to survive, and wasn't magic. Is there any demon or item magic that could help with this? Maybe a crushing magic that can self-target and leave an opening to ooze out of? And an ability to coat something in a resilient but non-demon-harming shell? That way you could, for example, find yourself trapped in a warded box with a tiny sound-tube to be interrogated with, and then you could coat the tube to protect against its wards and then squirt yourself out from what was meant to be an inescapable prison. Or you could infiltrate fortresses using a tiny drill to make holes nobody will notice.
What happens if you put your arm into a box that seals completely using scissor-blades? Would the arm be connected by a tiny sliver, thinner even than the air itself? Or maybe the arm would just dissipate? Or would you still control it and could use it as a remote manipulator? Or maybe it would reform into a perfect copy of you, at 1/10th scale...
No. 929812 ID: 91ee5f

>”Ah, you must be the monster. Might I inquire your name?"
He already knows what you are? And he’s speaking to you in an extremely casual manner? That must mean he has something here to protect himself from you.

Try to deny that you’re a monster. If he insists on knowing what you are, then admit to being a monster.

As for giving him your name, if there’s some sort of demon law that gives someone power over you by giving them your name, don’t tell him your real name. Just give him the name Tolly, just like you did with Reinhold.

And when Jakob asks the obvious “What business do you have with me?” question, tell him that depends on what business he’s got available for you. Does he have anything you could do for him?
No. 929823 ID: b1b4f3

Isn't it a bad idea to give a mortal your name? How about you tell him he can call you "Dio". Or Tolly again I guess.

Also ask him how he knows of you. Did someone see you killing those muggers?
No. 929890 ID: b8d5aa

don't deny that you're "the monster". ignore his comment about it. any mortal, mundane person could be 'the monster' if they racked up enough fear and credibility.
No. 929914 ID: 719d94

"You don't call everyone a monster who comes in through the window rather than the door, do you? That just seems rude, particularly in this line of work."

+1 on not using your real name or Tolly. Call yourself something new, maybe Tina. If you want to be showy and mysterious, as appropriate for someone climbing in through the window, maybe add something like a "I go by many names, but you may call me" to your self-introduction.
No. 929916 ID: 0ebfe7

If our reputation precedes us, then we can use that. Let's be curious about the extent of that, use it as an icebreaker. What's he heard about us? Just killing the priest? He might have use for services like ours, we know we have use for his.
No. 929924 ID: a9af05

>Focus, clod.
I can't help it! You made me hungry when you mentioned cake!

He was expecting you, huh?

Well, just ask him if he's got any sort of job for you. You'll do them in exchange for knocking off some of Niklaus' debt.

That is what we told Niklaus we'd do, right?
No. 929929 ID: 688dd6
File 155537280809.png - (15.38KB , 700x800 , 187-demonlore.png )

>You could go through a keyhole? Provided that there was sufficient force pushing you through, and the keyhole was sturdy enough to survive, and wasn't magic.
Could human flesh go through a keyhole? No? Then you've already failed my very simple test. Stop wasting time on absurd hypotheticals. I would rather demonstrate practically by being smashed flat under a twenty-ton weight than entertain this inane logic any further. You lot are worse than the Brotherhood of Knowledge.

I don't know how many times I have to say this: I'm. Not. A. Slime. Monster. I'm a demon. I'm not made out of jelly. I'm made out of magic.

>Isn't it a bad idea to give a mortal your name?
>Is there any name-based magic or a chronicle of demons that would give reason to not throw your real name around?
Never heard of such a thing, but then again I'm not a mage. Dionaea isn't even my real name, though. You guys came up with it, remember?

>demon law
No. There's nothing universal binding demons, other than that they are evil magical creatures. I was created long before the concept of a law even existed. Demons are simply... created to fill the roles that mortals expect of them. Most of the time.

>I would avoid the name you gave Reinhold
>Just give him the name Tolly
>tell him he can call you "Dio". Or Tolly again I guess.
>Call yourself something new
"I have many names, but you may call me Bartholomew, sir Softpaw."

The rat cracks a wry smile. "No need to call me sir. I'm no knight. Just a tradesman, and... knower of things."
No. 929930 ID: 688dd6
File 155537282017.png - (15.57KB , 700x800 , 188-gaze.png )

>What's he heard about us?
>Also ask him how he knows of you.
>don't deny that you're "the monster". ignore his comment about it.
>He was expecting you, huh?
"You were expecting me, then? Why? What have you heard about me?" I ask.

"Well, let's see... where shall I start?" Jakob continues writing as he speaks, the dry shuffling of parchment punctuating his sentences, as he flips through pages and pushes away documents to retrieve others. "I know that a farming hamlet just a few miles away was abruptly wiped off the map a few days ago, its entire population slaughtered." Unrolled scrolls are lifted and rearranged. "I know that on the road between here and there several travellers were killed, their valuables left untouched." Susurrous swishes cut through the following pause. "I know that two nights ago a laborer was murdered in an alley near the town's walls, and the next night a senior priest was savagely executed, his body desecrated.

"I know that a creature capable of such fearsome violence could easily butcher me before I even knew my life was in danger, and I know that no hooded mousefolk would -- if they even could -- come climbing quiet through my second-story window in the dead of night." A few faint scratches of his pen later, his hand finally stops. "I know that whatever would climb through my window, capable of these deeds, only to sit on the sill, a creature which knows me by name, must want something from me -- something that only I can provide." He finally sets the quill down in its inkwell and folds his hands together, resting his elbows on the table and gazing at me. His tail swishes slowly just above the floor behind him. "These are the things I know, which you also know, and that you know how I would know them. I give you this knowledge as a token of my good will. Now, in return, Bartholomew, I ask you to inform me of something which, though I have my suspicions, I do not know:

"What can I do for you?"
No. 929933 ID: a9af05

Take a seat in the chair that's in front of his desk. Then begin doing business with him.
No. 929945 ID: b1b4f3

Well, he can give you targets. Experienced people that are nonetheless within your capability to kill. He can also ensure that the city will remain open to you, and that you can leave it if needed. That broken ward will be noticed eventually after all.
Also he can let you fence your ill gotten gains, and let you buy things more useful to you. Some caltrops would be useful. Nonlethal so they don't steal kills, harmless to you, and excellent for disabling enemies. Other nonlethal weaponry would be great, like shuriken (so long as you don't hit vitals) or poison darts/powder that can cause paralysis or sleep.

Also jeez louise you're leaving a trail of corpses. Anyone paying attention to that kind of thing would know there's a monster in town. I don't think we can stay here for all our murdering purposes. Might be a good idea to arrange for another corpse trail leading to another city, then reduce the frequency of killings, or actually start to travel for big targets while keeping this as a home base and using Niklaus to gather power.
Speaking of Nilaus I can't think of a way to get these guys off his back without also making it obvious you're aligned with him. This guy is obviously pretty smart, after all. That would be a risk because Jakob might eventually decide you're too dangerous and try to kill you in your sleep. ...maybe you can obfuscate things a bit by picking multiple people for him to forgive the debts of? Then he'd either have to spend resources to check out all of them, or try to have you followed.

Also you should express doubt that he would be expecting you yet not have some means of protecting himself. Does he not have a bunch of magic devices lining the room? Ask what they do, what sort of trap did he have prepared for you if you killed him?
No. 929964 ID: 91ee5f

Do this.

>what sort of trap did he have prepared for you if you killed him?
Or attempted to kill him, if the trap activates before we get close to him.
No. 930002 ID: 0ebfe7

> "I know that whatever would climb through my window, capable of these deeds, only to sit on the sill, a creature which knows me by name, must want something from me -- something that only I can provide."

Fuck he's good. Niklaus wasn't kidding.

We want work. He doesn't need to know why exactly, nor the details of our nature, but it should be enough for him to know he can get a trustworthy assassin and a trader for magical goods and other tools of the trade.

The trail of bodies does betray that our work isn't particularly clean, but if he needs someone dead, maybe he can leave that bit to us and get some other lackeys to do the clean-up. Or maybe he just needs something more boring, like valuables stolen or people scared shitless, which we're also good at given our mobility and demonic nature.

We need connections, and can give these guys another thing to worry about so they won't be bothering him as much, while we figure out how to get him off the hook without raising suspicion.
No. 930052 ID: b8d5aa

what he can do for you is ease off on niklaus, though you might not want to lead with that. niklaus is a safe harbor, for the moment, though you have no real allegiance to him.

he asks what he can do for you?

no. pull your mask off, get in real close, and ask what YOU can do for HIM.
No. 930084 ID: 688dd6
File 155547091485.png - (17.98KB , 700x800 , 189-hop.png )

>pull your mask off, get in real close, and ask what YOU can do for HIM.
I feel the need to remind you that mortals can't see my red eyes when I'm Impersonating someone, so while I presume you're going for me intimidating him with my demon form, I'd actually just be a weird mouse guy shoving my face in his.

>you should express doubt that he would be expecting you yet not have some means of protecting himself.
"I'll be honest, I'm skeptical." I say. "I expected you to try to kill me. You knew I was coming, but you don't have any trap set up? After all that about the trail of bodies I've left? What would you have done if I killed you?"

Jakob chuckles. "You guess in error, my friend. I had no idea you were coming. I simply put the pieces together when I looked up and saw you sitting there. What other explanation was there? Truth be told, I expected the guards to take care of you on their own time, and didn't think about you much at all. You coming to visit me is... a surprise, though not an unwelcome one.

"As I've already said, I'm sure you could have butchered me before I even knew I was in danger. I'm not a warrior, or a mage. I'm a merchant, and an opportunist. If you were here to kill me, you would have done it long ago, which means that you're here for something else. Tell me. I'm listening."
No. 930087 ID: 688dd6
File 155547097150.png - (18.61KB , 800x700 , 190-bargain.png )

>Take a seat in the chair that's in front of his desk.
>We want work.
>We need connections
The chair and the path I walk to it aren't trapped. I sit down in it, doing my best to ignore the lamplight biting every inch of my exposed form. "Well, then. You know what I'm capable of. You know I'm not a mindless brute for the same reasons you aren't currently dead. I'm here for work. Do you have any?"

It's the first time he seems fazed by the situation. "Work?" he asks, unable to completely stifle the bewilderment in his voice. "You want... a job? From me? Why?"

"You said it yourself. The guards will get to me eventually if I keep doing what I've been doing. I need connections and influence, and a reliable way in and out of town. And I know that you've put yourself in the position of providing those things for people who aren't upright citizens."

The confusion ebbs and that slight smile of his returns. "That's not something you know, which I also know, that I know how you would know it. But nevertheless, I may be able to help you. Assassination isn't something I have a great need for, but there is a task well-suited to your particular talents that I have been mulling over for a while. Complete it, and you'd be more than an employee to me; I'd consider you a business partner. Not only would I pay you handsomely, but you would need somewhere to spend that money, yes? I can provide you with easy access to the best black market in the empire, and smuggle you in and out of town any time you like. If that's not enough, I'd consider you favorably if you should ask me for anything else you might need. What do you say?"
No. 930090 ID: b1b4f3

>exposed form
Ah, I was wondering if wearing more clothing helped. Sounds like it does. What parts are exposed still that could be easily covered without interfering with your abilities?

Ask him what the job is. The reward does sound good.
If he's sending you to kill or otherwise hassle Niklaus, then you'll have to ask him why. You visited his manor and he didn't seem to have anything of worth.
No. 930182 ID: 0ebfe7

Sounds good, now get more details. With a reward like that this has to be something major, which'll be fun to tackle, or something with multiple steps which should keep us occupied for a while. Either way, he's got pen and paper right there so he could give us a map for future reference, ask about that. We're having so much trouble just getting around lately.

Also, point out that we can feel the magic energy near him. Does he keep arcane trinkets around? Does he trade them directly? They can be useful and dangerous to us, so any info is good to have.
No. 930200 ID: a9af05

Do this.
No. 930272 ID: 688dd6
File 155556425502.png - (12.22KB , 700x800 , 191-stare.png )

>Ah, I was wondering if wearing more clothing helped. Sounds like it does.
Sort of. Again, light doesn't actually injure me, it's a purely mental pain. It's like holding your hand in scalding hot water versus dunking your entire body in it. It doesn't hurt as much but it's not really a noticeable improvement. If I covered every other part of my body, I'd still be pouring scalding hot water onto my eyes. It literally can't not distract me.

>What parts are exposed still that could be easily covered without interfering with your abilities?
Technically all clothing interferes with my abilities. I need to be touching a victim when they die to Feed. I can be touching them with any part of my body, so covering any part of it makes that more difficult. My clothing also won't Shadowblend with me so that ability is essentially useless with it on; as soon as they noticed my clothing they'd notice the rest of me. It's really only useful to me for the impression it gives to mortals.

>Ask him what the job is.
>get more details.
"All right. What's the task? You have to tell me eventually."

"Something very simple for someone like you. Just another random death in your recent spate of killings. The town's wealthier residents reside on the hill overlooking it. I would like you to go to a specific one of these residences and murder its owner. That's it. It should not be very difficult for you, considering what you've already done before we met, and it should not draw much additional attention. You may cleave your way through the guards to get to him if necessary, but I must stridently insist that you do not harm the building's servants."

>If he's sending you to kill or otherwise hassle Niklaus, then you'll have to ask him why. You visited his manor and he didn't seem to have anything of worth.
>Do this.
It's pretty obvious he's talking about Niklaus. "That guy? Why? His manor didn't seem to have anything of worth in it."

Jakob's smile vanishes in an instant, and he stares at me.
No. 930273 ID: 688dd6
File 155556426454.png - (12.96KB , 700x800 , 192-busy.png )

An uncomfortably long time passes in silence. If it weren't for his eyes moving I'd think I had triggered some spell that turned him to stone. I don't understand what he's doing and it's weirding me out. When he finally speaks again, his face is expressionless.

"The 'why' is something I know, which you do not know. Such knowledge is not given freely. I opened our dealings by telling you things we both knew, and knew how the other would know them, as a gesture of good will, because it placed us on equal footing. To tell you more would put me at an unfair disadvantage. If you want my help, go and kill him. I will know when you have completed the task. It would seem to me that you require no further help from me in doing so. You may leave the way you came in."

He picks up his quill again and resumes writing.

>he could give us a map for future reference, ask about that
>Does he keep arcane trinkets around? Does he trade them directly?
It doesn't seem like he's going to give me anything else, now.
No. 930274 ID: b1b4f3

Alright, there's obviously something Niklaus didn't tell you. Let's go interrogate and maybe kill him.
No. 930277 ID: 91ee5f

>Let's go interrogate and maybe kill him.
Yeah, do this.

Sure, we agreed to help Niklaus and I feel kinda bad for him, but in the long run, the fat rat, er Jakob, he’ll provide better connections and resources than Niklaus can.

And let’s be honest, Dionaea isn’t some hero meant to save every person with a sob story, so if we need to kill Niklaus, she’s not gonna lose any sleep over it.
No. 930287 ID: 70131c

I agree that we should interrogate Niklaus, and be ready to kill him.

When the time comes, should it come, give him a clean death. That much he deserves.
No. 930294 ID: 977456

Well, that sounds like a deal with no benefit to you. The guy's offer is entirely dependent upon his reputation, which is only as good as his ability to quiet anyone he fails, which seems considerable. It also makes you dependent upon him. Granted, you don't have many other offers, but this would look like a desperate move on your part. At least haggle for some pay and contact up-front, or better yet, take your leave and look for better offers.
No. 930300 ID: 88fc59

What age is this? The Age of Shadows.
We'll make the shadows taller and longer.

Let's go kill Niklaus. Actually, leaving his servants be would probably do them a favor, too. He hardly pays them, right? They could find greener pastures without him.
No. 930316 ID: 0ebfe7

This is sketchy. We clearly got a reaction from him, so maybe we can push him about it some more. Maybe it's not his decision, but that of someone higher up the chain of command. That said, spouting off more names will only get us in trouble.

Either way, Niklaus was already in fear of assassins getting to him, but why? Corpses can't pay debts. If the house changes owners, that's it for the servants too, so it's curious he'd be worrying about us not killing them either.
No. 930317 ID: b8d5aa

while of course we wouldn't shed any tears over niklaus' demise, it really doesn't feel like the best option. for one, we've got a pretty cushy arrangement with the basement spot, and it's better to have niklaus under our thumb than to be jakob's servant.

i don't know about aggressively interrogating niklaus, either, because, really, how much do we really care? it's their business. we're just in it for ourselves.

couldn't hurt to ask, but it might be even more fun to try to figure out what's going on without killing your current patron, and might put us in a better position.

jakob says that you knowing the details of the situation between himself and niklaus would put him at "an unfair disadvantage". what did he mean by this?

"ah, i see. lovers' spat?"
No. 930318 ID: 094652

Yeah, no.

See, the criminal underworld KNOWS Niklaus is @#$%ed. He doesn't have any skill to carve out anything beyond leeching on the barons' corruption and stagnacy. He's the equivalent of a placeholder image on a game board; anyone wants to claim an empty safehouse, they just have to fight the guards, kill him, and make up a lie about Niklaus' illegitimacy. Hell, YOU claimed his house already. He has no friends or family to back up any of his claims, and the only reason he hasn't been kicked out of his mansion by a random... well, you, is because he still has a tiny army. If any of the big players want his land they can just pay the iron price and be done with it.

So why do they want HIM dead?

Because they know he's special. You can always kill Niklaus later, but whatever this guy knows is important enough to let a psycho mass-murdering demoness from hell loose just to end him, OR he's totally going to screw you over and tip the local army of your whereabouts.
No. 930322 ID: a9af05

Don't mention that you've already met with Niklaus. Telling Jakob that you've already met with Niklaus and saying you'd help clear his debt ain't gonna help.

And if you tell Jakob that you'll kill Niklaus because Jakob made a better offer, that'll just make Jakob not trust you because you can easily turn on him and kill him if someone else makes a better offer.
No. 930343 ID: 688dd6
File 155563894392.png - (30.86KB , 700x800 , 193-trek.png )

>Let's go interrogate and maybe kill him.
>Yeah, do this.
>I agree that we should interrogate Niklaus, and be ready to kill him.
>Let's go kill Niklaus.
What, really? Alright, I guess.

>take your leave and look for better offers.
>This is sketchy.
>it really doesn't feel like the best option.
>Yeah, no.
Or not, geez. Maybe you should discuss this amongst yourselves first? Not like I'm in a rush.

For what it's worth, I think I should be trying to start my own faction. I've learned over the centuries that the best way to expand my influence is with a dependable network of loyal allies, and the best strategy for recruitment is to find vulnerable, desperate people and position myself as someone who can solve their problems, improve their lives, and give them purpose. I may have been born as a monster, long ago, but mortals have taught me how to be so much more than that. I can be a general, a trickster, a priestess, a warrior, a diplomat, a leader -- an empress. Death is not the only thing that operates in shadows. Guile, persuasiveness, and secrecy are also my domain.

I grow in power from consuming souls, but I can gain just as much power from sparing them. I have to consider what they are worth to me alive, not just right now, but in the future. And there's no reason I can't make both of them happy, with a little tact and artistry.

>maybe we can push him about it some more.
>couldn't hurt to ask
I think it could hurt, actually. I don't want to antagonize him. I'm just going to head back to Niklaus's manor.
No. 930344 ID: 688dd6
File 155563895288.png - (36.19KB , 700x800 , 194-clamor.png )

Weirdly enough, I didn't even have to climb over the wall this time. The guard at the gate opened it for me when I walked by and let me in. Weird. I can just stroll in the front door.

...Wait. Am I in the wrong building? Why are there so many people here? It's dim, crowded, and noisy inside.

"Aha! I do not recognize this one!" A rat with a bright, syrupy accent bustles towards me immediately. "We welcome you, sire. My honor to make your acquaintance! Please, let your hood down. Will it be food or drink tonight?"
No. 930346 ID: 2cc14c

I don't buy any of this. An illusion, maybe?
Spectral senses. Now.
No. 930347 ID: b1b4f3

Tell her you're here to speak with Niklaus. He is expecting you.

Wander about and eavesdrop on people.
No. 930364 ID: a9af05

Does that occasionally include being a lover to someone?

Because sometimes a gentle and loving touch is all the motivation some people need to do what you want them to do.

No. 930366 ID: 094652

Order some fries, ask her to deliver them outside. Then approach the building from another entrance.
No. 930368 ID: 91ee5f

Ask for Niklaus. Tell her the name you’ve been giving everyone else. And let her know that if Niklaus claims he doesn’t know you, tell her to tell him that you met with him last night about forming a partnership with him. Hopefully that will let him know that you’re the demon that said that she’d help him last night.

You’re probably going to look suspicious if you just stand around doing nothing, so you might need to eat or drink something to kinda blend in.

>eavesdrop on people.
Also do this.

Oh, come on. Dionaea already said she’s not gonna do that, so don’t try to push her into doing that!
No. 930371 ID: b1b4f3

Oh, here's a possible reason why they want Niklaus dead and for all the servants to be unharmed: they have someone in position to claim ownership after he's dead. So if we're going to smooth things over for Niklaus we need to find out how the criminals are trying to take over after he's gone, and make that more difficult.
Obviously they won't be pleased about this, but so long as both of you are no longer worth the effort of killing they won't go after you. They might put some small bounty on your heads though. For you that's not too bad, as you have the opportunity to fight back and eat whoever tries to kill you, and the criminals will put that bounty out on your current disguise which you can easily change. For him that's not so great, it means he can't go out in public without trusted guards.

Obviously this would mean we lose any opportunity to work for the criminals but you just implied you're better off working with Niklaus in the long run.
No. 930372 ID: 977456

Well... this is... some sort of gathering. With specific "guests"? Presumably illegal? The property didn't seem to have space for an arena, performances seem likely. Then again, it could just be an exclusive club.

I can't see them harming you easily, so I would just go along with it and try to learn something. Try to stall. Act as though you have had a rough day and just want to relax for a while before choosing anything.
No. 930386 ID: b8d5aa

of course you do not need food or drink, but is it possible for you to eat or drink just to blend in? i hope the light isn't going to be too bothersome.

"neither, lady. what's the occasion for the festivities?"

followed by:

"i need to speak with ser irontail."
No. 930457 ID: 688dd6
File 155572819392.png - (19.22KB , 700x800 , 195-servant.png )

>Spectral senses. Now.
I can't. Used 'em back at Jakob's office. They aren't available again yet. But the kind of master illusionist it would take to create a scene like this over such a large area would almost certainly be able to fool my Spectral Senses with some fake life signatures, so it wouldn't be much help anyway if this were somehow a trick.

>Does that occasionally include being a lover to someone? Because sometimes a gentle and loving touch is all the motivation some people need to do what you want them to do.
Hahahahaha, get the fuck out of here. I'll gently caress your mother, before I rip her throat out.

>i hope the light isn't going to be too bothersome.
It's dim. A mere nibble compared to what I've put up with today.

>Act as though you have had a rough day and just want to relax
Done and done. I don't even have to act.

>Tell her you're here to speak with Niklaus. He is expecting you.
>Ask for Niklaus. Tell her the name you’ve been giving everyone else.
>i need to speak with ser irontail.
"Neither. I'm here to speak with Niklaus, he's expecting me. Why all the commotion?"

The servant giggles and covers her mouth. "Oooh, Master Irontail's friend, are we? What's the name?"


"Well, I'll go right up and fetch him then, sir Bartholomew. Give me a moment, I don't expect he'll be in a good mood. Make yourself at home in the meantime!"
No. 930458 ID: 688dd6
File 155572820722.png - (25.48KB , 700x800 , 196-goblin.png )

She disappears through one of the doors, and I'm left alone among the hubbub. No one else seems to be paying much attention to me. There's several dozen people here; flickering lanterns provide a low, moody light, and I can hear jaunty music over the bubbling voices, clattering mugs, clinking coins, and squealing stools. None of them seem like the kind of people Niklaus would host in his home, but apparently I didn't wander into the wrong house.

>Wander about and eavesdrop on people.
I shuffle around the place a little. There's a bunch of people scuttling around, serving fresh-cooked food and lots of wine and ale to the tables. I don't know how I didn't hear all this on my way out. I guess I did climb out a window on the other side of the building, since you seemed like you were in a rush to go meet Reinhold. All I hear is people talking about their lives, realm politics I don't understand, shit like that. There's--

Oooh! Is that a goblin? I love goblins!
No. 930459 ID: b1b4f3

Really? I suppose you should go make friends then.
No. 930496 ID: 977456

They're all alone, they might be an outlier. Just don't be surprised if there is some quirk that ruins the "goblin experience" for you.
No. 930497 ID: 094652

You mean in a "self-loathing minion" way or an "underrated long-term soul power cattle project" way?

Don't show your interest just yet. Make a note of anything that might act as a trace and focus on Bart.
No. 930516 ID: 33b450

>I love goblins!
I thought you said you didn't do all of that love stuff? Are goblins and exception to the rule?
No. 930519 ID: 91ee5f

That’s not what she’s talking about and you know it.
No. 930520 ID: 0ebfe7

That's a seat we can take, and we can make conversation while we wait for Niklaus, so it all works out. She said he wouldn't be in a good mood, something might've happened while we were away.

What's your thing with goblins, anyway? Are their souls really tasty or are they easy to sway into working for you, or something?
No. 930578 ID: 688dd6
File 155581872549.png - (11.97KB , 700x800 , 197-surprised.png )

Yes! They're my favorite kind of mortal.

>I thought you said you didn't do all of that love stuff?
Look out, everybody! We've discovered the new densest material known to man.

>go make friends then.
>make conversation while we wait for Niklaus
I take a seat across from the goblin. Sometimes it's hard to tell their genders; this is definitely one of those goblins. Between the emaciation, the hairlessness, and the baggy clothes, it could go either way. A moment passes before it realizes I'm sitting there.

"Hello," I say.

"H-hi," it stammers. "Do you need something?"

"Just making conversation. I'm waiting for somebody. What're you doing here?"

"I work here," the goblin mutters. Its voice does sound vaguely feminine.

"Why're you just sitting here, then? Shouldn't you be serving tables?"

"I'm... taking a break. It's a lot of work."
No. 930579 ID: 688dd6
File 155581873759.png - (10.74KB , 700x800 , 198-snarl.png )

"What's a goblin doing working here, anyway?" I continue prodding it with questions. "Seems like the rest of the staff is ratfolk."

The goblin gives me the best glare it can muster at that. "You don't believe me, do you?"

"Sure I do. I'm just curious."

It sighs. "It's a long story. Why does it matter? There's goblins everywhere."

"I know. I like to meet them. What's your name?"

"You do?" It gives me a skeptical look. "Why do you want to know, anyway? Are you trying to get me in trouble? Old master Irontail told me not to talk to strangers any more than I had to."

"I'm not trying to get you in trouble, I just wanna know," I press it. It sighs.

"I guess it doesn't really matter. I'm Sosatoush. Everyone calls me Sosa, though."

"You're a girl, right? That sounds like a girl's name."

"Yeah. I am. What's it to you?" she growls, like a dog that grew up being kicked and sees the foot pulling back again. This is why I love goblins. They're the most interesting mortals I've ever met. If I could ever call a race of flesh and blood creatures 'my people,' it would be them.

I do my best to reassure her. "Nothing. It's not obvious from looking at you. Just wanted to see how good I was at guessing." She turns her head back down to stare at the table without a response.
No. 930580 ID: 688dd6
File 155581874958.png - (11.73KB , 700x800 , 199-puzzling.png )

Taking some pleasure in poking her when she clearly doesn't want to talk, I ask her another innocent question. "Have you been here long?"

Despite her obvious reluctance, she keeps answering them. "A while. Years."

"What brought you to Kelorus?"

"It's not important." That answer doesn't really surprise me. Goblins almost never want to talk about their past, in my experience.

"Are you bound to serve Niklaus, or can you leave when you like?"

Sosa looks puzzled. "Do you know Master Irontail?"

"Yes. I'm his friend. He's the person I'm waiting for."

"Oh..." Her expression changes to one of worriment, and she doesn't answer the question.

I decide to mess with her a little, and dig up some of my old Ancient Dwarven. "I can be your friend, too. I've always been fond of xatraavi."

She blinks slowly and mouths out the word in confusion, trying to parse it into her race's charming creole. "Xa- xat- sotrav--"
No. 930581 ID: 688dd6
File 155581876070.png - (13.07KB , 700x800 , 200-moshvak-neelosh.png )

Suddenly her eyes widen, and her body shudders. Her pupils dilate, and angry blue fire surges into them. Her voice shifts and echoes, her normal voice overwhelmed by the booming diction of another being.

"Do not toy with my subjects, demon. This one is important to me. You will not tamper with her fate. Begone." she hisses.
No. 930582 ID: 688dd6
File 155581877707.gif - (16.69KB , 700x800 , 201-aback.gif )

A hand claps me on the shoulder. It's the ratfolk servant from before, her accent dripping just as much honey. "The master awaits you in his sitting room, sir Bartholomew. Shall I escort you there?"
No. 930583 ID: b1b4f3

Haha what the fuck was that? Some kind of deity?

Yeah how about we get the fuck out of here and talk to Niklaus for a bit. Maybe we can ask him about the goblin too, and find out what her deal is.
No. 930586 ID: 977456

You are right, goblins ARE fun! I would keep this to mild prodding though. As much a that sounded like a challenge, you already have a lot on your plate. That said... she DOES sound like someone who would be receptive to certain deals. She sounded like she didn't want Niklous to know she was off-script. Perhaps she is under his thumb? Or spends time under him? Or could even just be a loyal employee avoiding trouble for her master? Or maybe beholden to a third party and avoiding attention... so many possibilities!

Alas, there is no benefit to appearing to keep Niklous waiting, so off to work...
No. 930591 ID: 91ee5f

So, I think that’s enough “fun” with the goblin. Let’s go meet Niklaus.

Don’t make eye contact with the goblin as you walk away.
No. 930613 ID: c9c19d

aww but you were just getting to the fun part.
...you were expecting this, right?
No. 930616 ID: 094652

I'm going to address the elephant in the room - what the hell was that? You're the expert and apparently you just ^&*( your pants.

Time to discuss your contract with Niklaus. Prepare your spells, this might get soul-wrenching.
No. 930625 ID: f2320a

yeah goblins are fun
No. 930681 ID: 688dd6
File 155590022051.png - (16.25KB , 700x800 , 202-slumped.png )

>Yeah how about we get the fuck out of here and talk to Niklaus for a bit.
Uhhhhhh yeah let's do that!

>You are right, goblins ARE fun!
See? Never a dull moment with goblins.

>...you were expecting this, right?
No. That has never happened before.

>Some kind of deity?
>what the hell was that? You're the expert
If I had to guess, it was her patron deity. Goblins have a pantheon and each of them is claimed on birth by one of them, usually their mother's. That's about all I know. You'd have to ask a goblin for the specifics.

Maybe a different goblin.

>Don’t make eye contact with the goblin as you walk away.
Not an issue. By the time I look back, she's already back to normal and staring at the table again.
No. 930682 ID: 688dd6
File 155590023210.png - (26.57KB , 700x800 , 203-opening.png )

I follow the servant girl through one of the doors, and the din of the gathering instantly fades when it shuts behind us, muffled until it's entirely inaudible further down the hall.

"Master Irontail filled me in on the details, sire," she says, filling in the silence as we walk through darkened halls. "It's such a joy to hear that the two of you have reunited. Who would have thought he had a distant, long-lost cousin out there? I must say, mouse or no, I can see the blood running through your veins."

She stops at one of the doors and places her hand on the handle, cracking it open. "I do hope that your family can indeed help him restore glory to ours, sire. We all despaired that the Irontail name might ever mean anything again. Your arrival is the opportunity we have all prayed for."
No. 930685 ID: b1b4f3

Oh dear. He made up a cover story for you, but... if he dies and there's no other living relatives, your mouse disguise persona would inherit the manor, wouldn't it? If he told anyone else the same story and the information made its way to Jakob, then that could be why you were told to kill him. But this hinges on a few facts that we haven't confirmed yet, so I wouldn't really put much faith in that hypothesis.

Anyway, tell the servant thanks but it's going to be tough with the manor in its current state.
Go in, and ask Niklaus just how private this room is. Could anyone listen at the door?
We need to know what Jakob would gain from his death, because he seemed completely unwilling to discuss an alternative. Who would inherit the estate? Would Jakob be able to lay claim to the place just from the weight of outstanding debts? Maybe in order to protect Niklaus we'd have to start making him enough money to pay off Jakob, which would mean they'd have no interest in killing him anymore.
We could rob some other rich bastard to accomplish that.
No. 930691 ID: 91ee5f

Tell Niklaus that you met up with Jakob and he correctly guessed that you weren’t actually a mortal. You wanted to ask Jakob for a job and, upon completion, you ask the reward go towards getting rid of Niklaus’ debt.

Unfortunately, the job Jakob gave you was to come and kill Niklaus. So, now that a demon actually has been sent to kill him this time, maybe he’d like to tell you if this is really only for a debt that’s owed? Or is there something else going on?

Because if he wants this partnership with you to work out, he’s gotta start helping you out by coming up with ideas that’ll convince Jakob to not want him dead.
No. 930693 ID: 20b7eb

>if he dies and there's no other living relatives, your mouse disguise persona would inherit the manor, wouldn't it?
well, that and the debts
No. 930706 ID: 977456

Pasue for a moment as though thinking, then tell her that you would like it if she could just write down a small list of her own concerns and thoughts on the problems. That she reminds you of someone who once provided a valuable insight.

Another perspective on matters might help detangle some of these conspiracies.
No. 930707 ID: 094652

Tell him you are seriously considering a better offer; after all, you're a mass-murdering demon from hell. The smart one knows what you are, and wants you to kill him - but why? The house is comfy to hide in but it's not worth the hassle of sending a rampaging, soul devouring beast to destroy property values across the board. Someone wants his bloodline erased and they played the long game to ruin him completely.

He needs to fess up. Now. Or you'll just take the simple option.
No. 930768 ID: 0ebfe7

Why would Niklaus even need a cover story if we've been careful not to go through the front doors? And he's propping you up as someone who could potentially save him, too. We've got the threat of Jakob's hit on him to push him with, too, so let's get some answers.

Let's lock the door behind us and present ourselves in our true form, while we're at it.
No. 930799 ID: 688dd6
File 155598736145.png - (11.40KB , 700x800 , 204-nose.png )

>tell her that you would like it if she could just write down a small list of her own concerns and thoughts on the problems.
Rather optimistic to assume she can write. If you want me to ask her questions, I'll just hunt her down later. She seems easy to find.

>Let's lock the door behind us and present ourselves in our true form
I'm not sure this is a good idea, in case the servants are nosy, but... what the hell, it's been a while since I got to be myself. Pretty sure the door doesn't lock from either side without a key, though.

As I go through to close the door behind me, the servant pokes her nose around the edge of it and whispers sweetly, "Do be careful, sire. His kind likes ice and fire both."
No. 930800 ID: 688dd6
File 155598738039.png - (18.41KB , 700x800 , 205-pace.png )

"You look different," Niklaus comments as I enter.

[ Dionaea stops Impersonating a victim. ]

"You didn't tell me you could change shapes," he adds.

"It's an illusion, not shapeshifting. Why did you tell her I was your cousin? Why the need for a cover story if I've never gone through the front door? And you're casting me as your potential savior?"

He holds up his hands in a defensive gesture. "Whoa, now, why the hostility? First of all, how can you say that to me after you quite literally walked through the front door and up to one of my servants? I had to come up with something to tell her. That you were my distant cousin was the first thing that came to mind. And that's the truth, isn't it? You're someone who could potentially save me. It's fine; I told her not to get anyone's hopes up."

I pace around his seat, tail lashing. "Well, I spoke to Jakob. He figured out immediately that I was no mortal. I asked him for a job to win his trust and work towards freeing you of your debt, and he gave me one -- to kill you."

Niklaus gives a wan smile. "Now you know why I thought it so when we first met."

"But why, Irontail? It's a nice manor, but why would he threaten your life for it? Why would he play such a long game to bring you to utter ruin? Why is he so intent on erasing your bloodline?"

"I don't know!" he protests. "I have no idea why he's so ruthless. He was born a black-hearted bastard, isn't that enough? Don't tell me he sweet-talked you too. I told you he was a silver-tongued liar."

"He didn't lie to me," I point out. "He was very meticulous about laying out only facts."

His eyelid twitches in irritation. "Exactly like I told you he would!" he hisses. "Were my exact words not 'I've never met a man who used authenticity so duplicitously?' So he didn't lie to your face. Did he tell you anything useful? No. He sowed doubts in your head and turned you against your ally, and then walked you out the door so you could lie to yourself for him. Believe me, I've seen it all before."
No. 930801 ID: 688dd6
File 155598738923.png - (21.18KB , 700x800 , 206-argument.png )

"Who would inherit your estate if you died?" I demand.

He shrugs. "I'm the last of my name. My family's decline began before I was born; I merely accelerated it. If I died, I imagine the Emperor would reclaim possession of the land and the manor and bestow it to someone else. The servants would have to fend for themselves, and the new owner would do as they liked with what I left behind. But to position themselves next in line for it would require far too much political capital for too little reward. I swear to you there's nothing of significant worth left on the whole property. All the heirlooms, all the artifacts, all the trinkets -- I sold them long ago."

I jab a finger at him. "Now I know you're lying. The whole reason I came here is that I sensed a lot of magic in the place."

He throws his hands up. "God in Heaven! How should I know why you sensed it? I don't know magic and I didn't pay attention in my artificer studies. I swear to you I sold it all. I combed the whole place top to bottom myself. I had every damn fork and bowl appraised for enchantments. The only objects of value left are sentimental."

"What about Bartholomew? Wouldn't he be next in line to inherit? Does Jakob know that? Is that why he sent me to kill you?"

Niklaus scoffs. "He may be a clever piece of shit, but I know damn well he can't see through time. I made up that story twenty minutes ago, after you got here. And don't go getting your hopes up; some long-lost cousin from outside the Empire wouldn't have a stronger claim to the land than the Emperor."

"I just don't believe it. There's really nothing more to this than your debts? If you want my help, you'd better tell me."

"For the last time, that's all I know! Is it really so hard to believe that he's a sadistic, greedy fuck who'll gladly wring me of every last coin? For the love of God, if you'd rather make your bed with Duke Furthing, then just kill me. But you'll regret it just as my family did. I may not be a moral paragon, but I'm still a man of honor, and my word is my bond. I would never purposefully deceive you. He and all those who work for him are scum, and they'll stab you in the back before they let you climb on their heads."

"What should I do with you, then? Give me some ideas so I don't have to solve this the easy way."

"I don't know! Why the fuck do you think I asked you?! I don't know what to do! For the last few months I've been sleeping with a sword, just hoping to die fighting! I'm a cornered animal! You said you were a problem solver, so solve the problem! I'll do whatever I have to do, but I can't tell you what that is because I DON'T KNOW!"
No. 930803 ID: b1b4f3

Alright if he doesn't know anything, then I think Jakob knows something he doesn't know.
Use Spectral Senses again as soon as it's available so you can track down whatever's magical in here. That's what Jakob is after, for sure. If we can get it first, Jakob will likely back off since he can't get it anymore.

Also Jakob did tell you something useful- he wants all the servants alive but doesn't care about the guards. Are the servants special? Ask Niklaus about that "ice and fire" comment. Also, the blood thing. Is there anything special about his bloodline? She also implied it didn't have anything to do with being a mouse...
No. 930807 ID: 094652

"... Something tells me those 'sentimental' trinkets are at the very root of your problems.

Your goblin servant, for instance. I like her, she's cute. Her guardian spirit? Not so much. Now where would she even find an attunement artifact to link with a powerful spirit if she spends all her time in your empty house with its 'worthless' trinkets?

And of course, even if I could wring the locations out of you, they will work best in the hands of their bloodline owner. So you get to live. Until you live no longer."
No. 930811 ID: 2202fb

"You are either a lying, dishonorable bastard, or there is something game-changing here you dont know about."

Lets learn about the house history and if there is any interesting history about the land it is on.
No. 930818 ID: 91ee5f

Hey, I know this is a bad time, but now that you’re wearing this outfit as yourself, I’d just like to reiterate that you look adorable in it!

Anyways, back to the task at hand.....

Ask Niklaus why there’s a huge party going on? You’d think someone that’s got a huge debt wouldn’t be able to afford to throw a party like that.

This makes the most sense. There must be something special hidden in this house that Niklaus doesn’t know about, along with the servants themselves being special in their own way.

Then again, maybe Jakob doesn’t want the servants killed because he won’t have to waste money on replacing them when he takes this manor from Niklaus.

Once Spectral Senses are available, turn them on and let’s go on a treasure hunt with Niklaus. We’re bringing him with us because you don’t have access to certain places of the house and the guards will be suspicious of you walking around alone, but with Niklaus at your side, the guards will leave you alone so you guys can explore. You’ll also have to put on that same Impersonation you were using.
No. 930824 ID: 977456

Will the magic of whatever is here help to hide your use of Spectral Senses?
No. 930827 ID: 20b7eb

it appears there's magic hidden somewhere. maybe finding it would explain something.
personally i'd start with the basement, but really it could be anywhere.
use spectral senses?
No. 930870 ID: 64356b

Both of these.
No. 930919 ID: b8d5aa

let's think for a minute. if jakob knew there was some powerful magical artifact hidden in the manor, wouldn't he just demand it from niklaus like he's demanded everything else? i think there is something else going on.

let's change the topic for a moment and ask about the party, and his servants, and that strange 'fire and ice' comment. and let's definitely not go poking around in full-on demon form where all the guards can see, even if we do have niklaus' blessing.
No. 930921 ID: e715fe

I'm thinking Sosa is probably involved in the same sort of plots, whether she knows it or not. She probably doesn't work for Jakob, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were more than one with the agency to come looking for all this.

Which means if you can figure out what it is, and get it first, you'll simultaneously have this very much wanted thing, and also be targeted because of it.

Tell Niklaus that you're still going to solve his problem for him, and you'll try to make it be in a way that won't get him killed.
No. 930923 ID: b1b4f3

It's probably something Jakob doesn't want Niklaus to know about, for whatever reason. Maybe something powerful enough Niklaus could use it to stand up to his debtors directly? Or something that's worth way more than the debt, so they want to gain access to it directly?

Or maybe they want the servants alive to try to wring money out of them. Like "your master had the debt, it now transfers to you"
No. 930933 ID: 688dd6
File 155606437807.png - (12.23KB , 700x800 , 207-duress.png )

A silence hangs in the air for a long time after he screams at me. I watch while tremors run through his body, his shoulders flexing and heaving as he draws in shuddering breaths. I can see the frustration and desperate anguish in every knotted muscle along the back of his neck, his form hunched over in tearless grieving. When I look at him I see an animal not merely cornered but crippled gorily, somehow surviving its injuries, but only to spend every waking moment suffering, dreading every touch to its festering wounds.

Pity is alien to me, but I was born a huntress, and I can recognize someone else's prey. I find no joy in tormenting a quarry that was brought low by another, no pride in toying with a creature I did not lame. That is the domain of a scavenger, utterly beneath me, and the disgust the thought evokes in me might suffice as empathy. Perhaps it was the wrong approach to interrogate him so harshly, when plainly his heartstrings are wound so tight that they might snap.

I don't feel tired like mortals do, the dullness of mind and leadenness of body that screams at them to sleep or die, but I can feel exhaustion of the spirit. It's been a long night, and not long from now daylight will begin to creep its abhorrent way over the horizon. I want to rest. I can ask him more questions if you think it necessary, but I don't know how much good it will do. I feel like I have all the answers I need, anyway. I just don't know how to put them together. That's your job, I think. If you need me to play sleuth before you're satisfied doing so, I'll do it tomorrow.
No. 930937 ID: b1b4f3

Are you not gonna comment on any of our theories?
No. 930938 ID: e715fe

Let's all get some rest. You don't need to reassure him, but letting him vent probably helped a little anyway. Tell him he's going to live a good while longer if you have any say in it, and tomorrow night, you'll look around his manor more.
No. 930944 ID: 91ee5f

Just tell Niklaus that you think there’s something magic hidden somewhere in his house and that might be what Jakob wants. The sun’s almost up, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to go treasure hunting with him.

Tell him not to die during the day while you’re asleep.
No. 930946 ID: 1e415e

Niklaus is a paragon of a broken man. At this point, I doubt suicide is far beyond him. Leave him with some semblance of a reassurance, even if a false one. At least make clear that he doesn't die by your hand, not today.

I personally think we should help him. He has nothing, making him prime material for an ally, yet is in a position to gain much, with a little help, making him valuable in the long run. On the other hand, Jakob is rather powerful in his own right, and doesn't actually need you; making you expendable to him, a tool, if you would. You will have a hard time gaining any control over Jakob, making him a liability, even if an ally in the short-term. Overall, I believe you stand to gain far more from Niklaus.
No. 930950 ID: 8d4593

I agree.

Tell him that you will solve his problem, but you need him to stay alive to do it.
No. 930971 ID: 977456

Ask if he has heard of people creeping around on rooftops.
Yes! This again! I am not clear on where our senses come from, and maybe they can be fooled, but Creepy Rooftop Stalker is as verified as we are able. You yourself are capable of some exotic stealth abilities with limited use, so don't be so quick to doubt that others are using their own brand of conventionally-impossible hiding.
No. 930989 ID: 91ee5f

>Creepy Rooftop Stalker
I’ve been thinking about that guy for a while and I might have a theory on why he keeps disappearing when we tell Dionaea to look behind her.

Hey, Dionaea, are you the only one that can hear us? Is it possible for someone else to hear the things we say to you? Because if it’s possible for us to be heard by someone other than you, that might explain how the guy on the rooftop keeps disappearing at the exact moment we tell you to look behind you. He hears us tell you, so he quickly hides before you can see him.
No. 931032 ID: a9af05

Yeah, if the sun is coming up, then you can go looking for magic things around the house tomorrow night.

Just let Niklaus know that you're gonna sleep and both of you can look around tomorrow night. And tell him to not throw a party tomorrow night, so that you guys have less people here to bother you.
No. 931037 ID: d63ea8


Niklaus strikes me as someone who would honour their debts with us once we have this sorted. Jakob might give us easy work now, but they would stab us in the back as soon as they had the chance.
No. 931071 ID: 688dd6
File 155615583694.png - (22.23KB , 700x800 , 208-confer.png )

>Are you not gonna comment on any of our theories?
What do you want me to say? They range from the plausible to the utterly oblivious. I've said what I think is important and I tire of repeating myself. Mortal affairs are not my forte. I listen to you because you ought to understand them better.

>Ask if he has heard of people creeping around on rooftops.
No. What kind of useful information could I possibly get from that?

>Hey, Dionaea, are you the only one that can hear us?
I dunno, probably.

>He hears us tell you, so he quickly hides before you can see him.
Did they do that when you told me earlier tonight? You told me not to look, so if they disappeared anyway, maybe it's plausible.

>Let's all get some rest.
>Leave him with some semblance of a reassurance
>Tell him that you will solve his problem
>Just let Niklaus know that you're gonna sleep and both of you can look around tomorrow night.
>And tell him to not throw a party tomorrow night, so that you guys have less people here to bother you.
I break the long silence. "I'm going to rest in the cellar until night falls again," I tell him. "I will do my best to help you, but when I said I was a skilled problem solver, I meant I was good at killing people who posed problems. It was innuendo. Since you've tied my hands on that, I have to find a less violent solution, which isn't my expertise, and will take time. Keep your head on until I can."

Niklaus lets out a rattling sigh. "I just don't see how killing them would make anything better. Not unless you killed your way right up to the Duke and freed me of my debt to him. Do you think you're capable of that?"

I consider the thought, and answer honestly. "No. I'm not that powerful yet."

"Even if you did," he continues, "you'd have the whole Empire after you. You'd be in more trouble than I am. And if I'm indebted to you for your help, that trouble is mine too. I'd go from one nightmare to another."

"What's with the party out there, by the way? I thought you said you were poor. Having all those people around is going to be bothersome."

He gives me a weary look. "Party? What? Oh. The servants run an alehouse and wine bar out there and rent the lower floor rooms out. Don't you remember? I told you I couldn't afford to pay them anymore. They have to get by somehow. I just let them run the place how they will."
No. 931073 ID: b1b4f3

Ah, so they have a source of income. Yeah it could very well be that Jakob (or the Duke?) is planning to offload the debt onto the servants. Hmm. Not sure how we can discourage or prevent that. Tempting to try to ask the goblin's patron for assistance since she's part of the staff here and thus potentially in danger of inheriting the debt. You're more familiar with gods than we are, how safe would it be to even talk to the goblin again?

Still, whatever's magical in here could be useful even if it's unrelated. Or, you know, we could just pawn it off.
...I wonder if we can work on our powerbase by killing off or otherwise sabotaging Niklaus's rivals? Seems like a slow method though. We could also, possibly get Niklaus's debt forgiven by gathering some extremely valuable information and delivering it to Jakob. We'd have to be sure they don't know about it already though.

Also no, the guy on the roof didn't move when we told you about him that time. It'd be embarrassing if it was a weird-looking chimney...
No. 931076 ID: 91ee5f

>Mortal affairs are not my forte. I listen to you because you ought to understand them better.
Well, with the way Niklaus is acting right now, usually what you’re supposed to do is either give him a hug or a pat on the back to help him feel better. But I know that’s not your kinda thing, so don’t do that.

>He gives me a weary look. "Party? What? Oh. The servants run an alehouse and wine bar out there and rent the lower floor rooms out. Don't you remember? I told you I couldn't afford to pay them anymore. They have to get by somehow. I just let them run the place how they will."
I really hope this doesn’t mean that the magic you sensed here before belonged to someone staying in one of the rooms the servants rented out. Because that would mean that there isn’t some special magical trinkets hidden here!

And holy shit, his weary face actually makes him look like he’s aged into an old man! He must be really fucking tired if he looks that bad!

I know that he’s afraid of getting killed in his sleep, but you’ve got to tell him to take better care of himself, otherwise he’ll literally kill himself from lack of sleep!
No. 931090 ID: c93db0

Well, I do believe that's all the questions we need pester him with for now. I think it's off to bed. Do remember to give a proper goodbye to Niklaus, demon or no, you must hold yourself to certain standards of class.
No. 931141 ID: a9af05

There's not much else to say. Let's head to your barrel and sleep.

>He needs to take better care of himself.
Yeah, he really does.
No. 931143 ID: b8d5aa

so is this a pretty straightforward case of jakob thinking he's squeezed as much as he can out of niklaus, and trying to finagle his way into possession of the manor (and its profitable ale-house) once niklaus is gone? i get the feeling it's more than that. back when you invited yourself in to visit jakob, he seemed to know a lot more about you than he should have in advance.

because of this, i think any further murders should be postponed for the moment, until the heat dies down. remember how the whole city's protected by a magical ward, and you snuck in through a hole? i bet now that it's known there's a monster in town, whoever's in charge of that will be going around the perimeter with a fine-toothed comb, making sure nothing else can get in- and that you can't get out.

you're going to be hunted. and when niklaus doesn't immediately end up dead within a day or two, jakob's going to be doubly suspicious.

the basement may not be safe much longer. you're going to need new hidey-holes, and start alternating between them. finding more places to stay can be one of your chores tomorrow night.
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