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File 132746728171.png - (244.99KB , 600x913 , card.png )
381984 No. 381984 ID: 95f225

Previously, Before the Storm
http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/227246.html
http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/262261.html
http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/281675.html
http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/296192.html
http://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/308967.html
http://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/347642.html
Expand all images
>>
No. 381987 ID: 95f225
File 132746801520.png - (181.43KB , 478x552 , 796.png )
381987

"Papers please."

I rarely get a chance to see any humans up close, excepting Sirius, so my interest is peaked by his appearance on the platform and the forms of those we observed in passing on the streets. This particular example, however, does not appear share my interest in the proceedings.

Till now we've made very good time, spending less than two hours to unload our luggage and make our way to the train station.
>>
No. 381994 ID: 95f225
File 132746913080.png - (200.42KB , 739x502 , 797.png )
381994

I pass the gentleman my pass and notification of transit while his partner, a lowlander lady with clipboard in hand, takes notes.

"Mhhm, Sauterelle... I see... one of those from the upland front?
"Well, yes I suppose we are still technically a 'front' though, there hasn't been an active battle there since I was just a crawler, even then it was mostly goblins vying for land."
"Uhuh, Good good. Now, Mr. Sauterelle, just going to ask a few questions."
"Certainly."
"Very well, this is for the record, so take a moment to think;
What class shall you be you traveling in?
What buisness do you have at the Peak?
How long do you expect to be staying?
annd...
Do you plan to return by the same route?"
"Eric, his declarations?"
"Ahh, yes. Have any personal belongings or trade goods to declare in the interest of public safety an legal conduct?"
>>
No. 382053 ID: 82a03b

Class depends on price, I suppose.
Personal business. Or family business.
Unknown- unlikely to be more than a week.
Yes.

As for illegal goods... I have no idea. Ask what sorts of things would need to be declared.
>>
No. 382218 ID: b6edd6

Business class would be less conspicuous.

Apart from that, this sounds good:
>>382053
>>
No. 382235 ID: ec8060

Actually whichever class you can afford that'd give you a good amount of privacy would be best, just to keep yourself (and Larcen, if he's with you) hidden. Away from prying eyes and such.

"Family business" may not be acceptable. If the train ends at the Peak, however, and the spot where you're rendezvousing with the airship is off the traintrack area, you might be able to claim that you're on a journey (or pilgrimage if you think that's appropriate) and just passing through the Peak, though you wanted to spend a few days there admiring the human technology and generally seeing the sights. When it comes to how long you'll be there, well we know that you need to get to Sirius somewhat soon, so "a few days, a week at most" would be a good response. But unless you want to buy an extra set of tickets now, I don't see why you'd want to make them believe that you were returning by train. Obviously it doesn't work with my 'on a journey/pilgrimage' excuse, but unless the area around the Peak is so heavily watched that there are very few manners in which you may return... there oughtn't need be much concern which 'other' route you take, right?
>>
No. 382843 ID: a2853b

Just a thought: if you could palm us over to a human at some point or another, we might be able to do some info digging.
>>
No. 383074 ID: b6edd6

>>382843
Don't do that. We have an inability to keep our proverbial mouths shut, remember?
>>
No. 383283 ID: 95f225
File 132789512387.png - (183.90KB , 739x502 , 798.png )
383283

"Business Class, it's a family trip, see the sights, that sort of thing, we plan on taking a different route back, perhaps along the coast and erh... what sort of things would I need to declare, I was under the impression the Peak was a free weapons zone?"
"Sorta, we got to know what people are moven along these rails though."
"Oh, well, I have a pistol, and a knife, that's all for me."
"Make?"
"Standardized Shortround Breachloader."
"Uhuh.. that will be all for now."
...
"Excuse me, but, what about that mask, where did you get it? I'm sure I just saw it move, yes, like that."
>>
No. 383297 ID: 95f225
File 132789641590.png - (162.08KB , 552x502 , 799.png )
383297

"Oh, this? It was a gift, from a good friend of mine, a human sage and practitioner."
"What does it do?"
"Well, nothing really, it is just... fancy, I suppose."
"You wouldn't be carrying any other such things would yeh?"
"I-erh... would they be counted as 'those sorts of things' the sort you would want to know about?"
"Yes, those sorts of things... right, now how about we have a look at your luggage sir. This way if you please."
"This really isn't necessary, it's nothing dangerous, a bit showy but-"
>>
No. 383299 ID: 95f225
File 132789663306.png - (114.59KB , 422x502 , 800.png )
383299

"Oh, ello, I am viff him, so... hew vhould be vhanting us for very... tourough search of our person? Be making sure are hiding no trinkets, hyes?"
>>
No. 383308 ID: 95f225
File 132789787563.png - (316.59KB , 803x600 , 801.png )
383308

"There was really no need for them to box up my things for such a short trip."
"Mehbeh if not being all long cloak an frownyface all de time not tinking hew so strange an mystical hyes?"
" But, they took my Araguu-9, said it was too dangerous!"
"You don't need to be carrying a rocket launcher at all times, what were you going to do with it in here!?"
"Vax es missile?"
You are all being children, go to sleep."
"Aww..."
"Don't minding eff we do oldtimer, iz gud to... replenish strength."
"I'm not tired at all."
"Then you shouldn't have slept on the way here."

I'm still not tired.
>>382843
I thought of it...
>>383074
Then thought better of it, regardless, they didn't even notice the orb. They saw the whistle but didn't think anything of it, didn't even point out the orb.

Still, how could I be sure I could get you back if I handed you off to someone, with Lucidia I was lucky she didn't throw you down a well or somesuch, but it's not like you fellows can order someone to bring you back, and... I thought you couldn't pry so deeply into a person's thoughts... right?
>>
No. 383319 ID: ec8060

Depends on the person. We're pretty good at talking with you, not so much with others. Kobolds seem rather simple, but we see and hear best when with you. Everyone else has silly filters with their perception. Anyway, you should probably try to get some sleep regardless. How long is the ride?
>>
No. 383320 ID: 40cb26

Well a simple mind like most kobolds can be led around easily enough, and an intelligent host can be reasoned with to help us out. In either case we don't need to "pry" into their minds, simple communication reveals much. Especially since people don't tend to be as careful with their thoughts as they are with their words.

We do make a good last trump card if you hand off us to someone: put us in someones hands unknowing and they may let much slip before realizing they are not alone in their own mind, or we can start making a ruckus and throw them off guard if they are dangerous to you.

In any case, every mind is different so it's difficult to generalize exactly how things will pan out.
>>
No. 383329 ID: a9ba96

If you plan on handing us off to someone, then I think a Kobold would be your safest bet. Probably the easiest to get information out of without any need to pry, and simple enough that it would probably be the safest bet for getting us back into your hands. But as the other have said, it really depends on the person.
>>
No. 383650 ID: 252e1b

>>383308

She should have thrown us down a well. I would have. We were being rather rude.

Well, water under the bridge.


>>383319
>>383320
>>383329

You all are making a critical mistake. Kobolds are by no means simple. They use different grammar and tend toward impulsiveness culturally, but they're not simple. Every 'bold we've seen or interacted with has shown themselves to be a complex individual.

They are easier for us to use as agents because they're often socialized to be subservient to other races. But that doesn't make them simple. Just exploited and ignorant about magic items (both failings that hold no shame).

We've mentioned it before, but we do perceive the world differently in the company of kobolds. We lose color vision, the perspectives skew, and we gain a better sense of the volume of the room. Perhaps it's an interpretation of some sort of passive ability to build a three-dimensional map of a room based on echos, perhaps it's just our magic connection being strange.

August, as to your question about our abilities... don't you have tools to make people follow a course of action without outright telling them what to do? Verbal cues, misleading information, and so on? We're versed in being manipulative. If we were lost to the hands of another, so long as they didn't keep us isolated, we would eventually be able to talk our way back to you. Might take a long time, or very little depending on circumstance and the individual, but it's possible.
>>
No. 384295 ID: 95f225
File 132839299639.png - (339.63KB , 803x600 , 802.png )
384295

>>383319
We are traveling at around... 50 kilometers an hour... shouldn't be too long, four or five hours at most, with one mostly gone already.

>>383320
So, if things look really bad you might like to switch hands? I could interpret multiple reasons to do so... but I admit, I cannot find much fault to them. Could be worth a try if worst comes to worst?
>>
No. 384297 ID: 95f225
File 132839337583.png - (349.47KB , 803x600 , 803.png )
384297

>>383329
Mmm, most Kobolds arn't known for being willful or particularly resistant to attacks on thought. There are excep-
>>383650
Well, snuffling around in complete darkness on a regular basis may make them more... sensitive to stimuli others ignore. They also have very large eyes, and noses, something we can't discount. Akin to the way most of my kind prefer the twilight hours to the glare of the day, or the utter darkness of night, unlike Men, who aren’t comfortable outside of the light.

As for my own manipulations, I prefer distraction or misdirection to deliberate misinformation. I don't trust my lies not to be scented out sooner or late-
>>
No. 384298 ID: 95f225
File 132839399950.png - (343.31KB , 803x600 , 804.png )
384298

I feel the fur of my neck prickling, and turn to see the white-on-green of a Marian Sect's 'priestess discretionary', dutifully moving down the hall.
>>
No. 384299 ID: 95f225
File 132839406537.png - (341.67KB , 803x600 , 805.png )
384299

"Didn't get buisness so anyone could just..."
>>
No. 384304 ID: 95f225
File 132839609411.png - (206.26KB , 800x600 , 806.png )
384304

I rise to close the curtain, I fell a little on edge to see one of them after having defeated that monster in tunnels. If that was a servant of the Matron... she could still be watching me, she could use the Church's connections to track people all over the kingdoms.

That scent, I recognize it, I recognize her.
She's headed back towards the observation car, I should probably just keep out of the way, hope I don't get seen again, shouldn't I?
>>
No. 384323 ID: e3aff6

Avoiding her sounds for the best. By now she has likely learned your true identity, and things would be awkward at best.
>>
No. 384324 ID: 1b0f2f

Rape her to the bone
>>
No. 384432 ID: ec8060

If you recognized her, there's a good chance she recognized you. If you're trying to maintain your anonymity, you might need to 'silence' her somehow.
>>
No. 384628 ID: e79d6a

>>384304

Peek into the car and observe what she's doing.
>>
No. 384780 ID: a2853b

>>384324
It would take a very long time to pulverize the flesh to that point.
>>
No. 384804 ID: a9ba96

Avoiding her seems like your best bet for now, unless you fear that she's recognized you as well and it will be a problem. I stuill would suggest avoidance for now, but I guess there are ways of "silencing" her a said above if you think it's necessary.

>>384324
...this is not one of them.
>>
No. 384916 ID: 82a03b

>>384304
Do you have a tie on hand? Or several. As many as possible. Hang one lightly around your neck, then another and another until you run out of ties, then tighten them to your mouth.
>>
No. 384937 ID: 1854db

My curiosity has outpaced my caution.

We should snoop.
>>
No. 384943 ID: a2fa74

>>384804
Technically, that IS one of them.
Not a quick, easy, effective, quiet, sane, or logical method, but it has a non-zero chance of working.

You are certain it's not Joliene in disguise and masking her scent, correct? The orange fur and build leave that as a possibility.
>>
No. 385187 ID: b6edd6

>>384943
Wait, is it not Joline? I had thought it was her with the fur color and the recognition.
>>
No. 385959 ID: 99477c
File 132902189802.png - (230.74KB , 800x600 , 807.png )
385959

>>384937
>>384432
>>384628
Snooping... subtly.
>>
No. 385960 ID: 99477c
File 132902200678.png - (221.86KB , 831x600 , 808.png )
385960

...and she probably is already in the next car.
>>
No. 385962 ID: 99477c
File 132902229213.png - (204.27KB , 831x600 , 809.png )
385962

>>384324
I... how... NOooooo! This is a retard line of thought, I doubt I'm even, how would-
>>384780
Exactly, it's not like I'm even a 'superior physical specimen'. She's large enough to break me in two if I tried that.
>>384916
I... don't really see where you are going with that, some sort of ritual suicide or invocation?
>>
No. 385969 ID: 99477c
File 132902377714.png - (194.23KB , 831x600 , 810.png )
385969

>>384943
...
>>385187
Yes, that's her... at least I'm fairly sure from the scent, I mean, we only literally slept with her. It's not like I know a lot of Marian Priestesses that way.
>>384323
>>384804
I'm fairly certain she stopped and stared at me, I could, feel it somehow.
>>
No. 385970 ID: 99477c
File 132902409786.png - (219.50KB , 645x600 , 811.png )
385970

Hmmm, she appears to be talking to a verhiman in white, sharply-cut clothing. A railway guard, or just a servant, perhaps informing on my supposed 'criminal tendencies' or inquiring as to my true identity?
>>
No. 385971 ID: 99477c
File 132902432242.png - (221.06KB , 645x600 , 812.png )
385971

If only I could hear over thi-

Dammit.

She smiles and beckons me to follow, before turning back and following the fellow in white.
>>
No. 385974 ID: 99477c
File 132902554633.png - (255.39KB , 900x600 , 813.png )
385974

I enter, the scents of food, cigarette smoke and polished wood rise to greet me. The windows let in plentiful light from the evening sun, and the, erh... passable view of the coastal lowlands. Muted conversation mingles with the clink of glass and silverware to complete the scene.
>>
No. 385976 ID: 99477c
File 132902653480.png - (225.05KB , 900x600 , 814.png )
385976

I approach her table as she waves off the other man, now obviously a waiter, and looks up at me, eyes somewhere between bemusement and ...something?

"Well then.~ Anythen yah fancy in particular, mehbe some then teh eat, or drink? Or'v our paths crossed 'gain for 'nother reason, Mister -erh?"
>>
No. 385979 ID: b6edd6

Hrm, she seems to know the name you gave her last time is not true, but she might or might not be testing you while knowing your real name.
I think we should try to play this cautiously, but imply the caution is more about the other people around than about her (which is partially true).

So I think you should quietly answer with something like "Call me Zira if you would. I am traveling on a... rather private business trip." If she asks more about your purpose here, say it involves reclaiming certain stolen valuables.
>>
No. 385984 ID: 1854db

It was coincidence, and you figured... why not catch up with a friend? Close enough to the truth, I think.
>>
No. 385987 ID: a2fa74

>>385976
Go ahead and tell her your name. You're not at a serious disadvantage right now, and she's been forthright with you so far. As far as why you're out, just say an old friend is in some trouble.

Also, apologize for the deception last time.
>>
No. 386416 ID: ec8060

Hmm, how absolutely sure are you that the guy she spoke with is a waiter or host? Because she's the only one (that we know of) that knows our identity, to one degree or another, and it's possible he's some kind of agent and... I'm probably being paranoid.

I still think this is highly suspicious of her to be here, I mean she just HAPPENED to be on the train to a human colony and she comes by your open booth and notice you? I think she was looking for you, or at least looking for something and happened to find you instead.
>>
No. 387130 ID: f1f2fa
File 132940985179.png - (305.90KB , 900x600 , 815.png )
387130

"I do apologize for the deception, but... still Zira for now I'm afraid. I'm on business to aid friend and family, and I would hate for their interests to be compromised on my account. Still, it wouldn't be right for me to pretend you weren't clever enough to discover the truth eventually."

She stares icily out the window just a bit while I seat myself, shifting her legs up under and beside her before breaking the ensuing silence.
>>
No. 387133 ID: f1f2fa
File 132941156355.png - (236.02KB , 900x600 , 816.png )
387133

"Well then, last anyone saw, yah were headed out to bring me some dinner. So ah suppose you'll be payen for the meal? Took yer sweet time, still, tis though what counts they say..."
>>
No. 387135 ID: f1f2fa
File 132941332577.png - (232.28KB , 900x600 , 817.png )
387135

"Still, was 'musing 'nough teh come back 'n hear ah Catterbast runn round lika birdie wiff is head cut off, less so 'bout mother tearen up the place. Don't be thinken yeh don't owe me fer that, mother's quite convinced erh little pet wouldn'ta got away wiffout sum help."

"It's a lot more complicated than it looks I assure you."

"Oh really... yeh seem to be 'volved in a lotta shady buisness then, even headed for the Peak for some big city wheeling 'n dealen too? Don't supposed you'da bought yer tickets as Zira?"

I feel a flush rush under my skin as I consider that, if she knows my room, or even just pointed me out to a particularly astute porter she could have aquired my name without ever confronting me.
>>
No. 387147 ID: 252e1b

>>387135

"I have been a little sloppy, no denying that. And rude in assuming you would be as bad as I am about looking into things. I apologize. Call me what you wish.

"I have a notion of what upset your mother so, and you have my word that I had nothing to do with his escape, beyond warning the fellow to not get eaten by your brother's lion. That's a fate I wouldn't wish on anyone, rascal or no. The only thing I took from your family's home was something that had been taken from me as a trophy."
>>
No. 387149 ID: 1854db

>>387135
Okay. Yeah. Just outright tell her who you are, then. And it's not shady business, sheesh.

And get some food for yourself, may as well while you're buying something for the lady.
>>
No. 387342 ID: ec8060

I don't like the way she's dropping off these 'subtle' threats and whatnot. You're going to have to turn on all your suave and charm to try to diffuse the situation. She seems to have some latent rivalry with her brother... it might be best if you try to reassure her that HE was the target of your deceptions (which indeed he was) and that she was merely collateral damage.
>>
No. 387348 ID: a2fa74

>>387135
"It's more for your sake than mine. Our families aren't on the best of terms, but I'm a scholar so politics be damned. I enjoy your company, and if I told you my name you'd have to lie about who I am, tow the line, or face censure.
Of course, even if you find out from somebody else you can still say that I 'never said my name'."
>>
No. 387637 ID: 99477c
File 132963220969.png - (187.75KB , 674x599 , 817.png )
387637

"Okay, okay... you've got me. I must confess, if I made such a habit of being 'shady people' one must hope I would be better at it? Still, you know the rivalry of our families, my deception was merely on account of Catterbast. "
"Go on..."
"It was never my plan to end up aiding, or even meeting said... erh... companion of your mother's. I was merely bound to aid him by our previous acquaintance under a different guise, as well as our separate and colliding escapades... my own infiltration having gone somewhat awry by that point.”
>>
No. 387638 ID: 99477c
File 132963228138.png - (198.06KB , 823x333 , 819.png )
387638

"Still, I must stress my mission was a private matter, I'm a scholar, not a political man... and you must admit, I could have taken erh, rather greater advantage of our circumstances were it my desire to bring you harm or dishonor."
""Mmmm, an Ah s'pose Ah gave yeh ample 'nough opportunity fer that hmm?
"Well... erhm, let's just say I would rather make an impression on you as a gentleman, rather than a scoundrel. Speaking of which, if I may see the menu we may find just what quality of a meal my metal shall merit us."
>>
No. 387640 ID: 99477c
File 132963284158.png - (139.28KB , 756x517 , 820.png )
387640

Jolienne passes me the menu and I take a look at what's for offer.
>>387394
>>387342
Yes, casual distraction, something less focused on me, or at least on our previous encounters. Still, while I'm sure I could blather on about my studies I doubt we would find much interest in common there.

I mean, with Lucidia we actually have had some common experience to springboard a conversation off. With her... our shared experience is exactly what I would prefer not to discuss now.
>>
No. 387645 ID: 82a03b

>>387640
If we start picking your dinner for you we'll be as bad as Lucidia thinks. Anyways, just make casual conversation. Ask about her hunting weasel, mention you recently got a new war mount, family stuff maybe?
>>
No. 387648 ID: 252e1b

Ask how the boy whose life you saved is doing. That's a safe topic.
>>
No. 387650 ID: 1854db

Just get what you think is appropriate, man. I dunno what your cultural hangups might be are about price or food or manners or anything anyway.

>>387648
Oh yeah! There was that pair of travelers we were aiding before you passed out.
>>
No. 387665 ID: b6edd6

I am quite embarrassed about the ticket/name concealing thing... Still, we probably should have traveled under an assumed name, given how we are on business that could be construed as kidnapping by the local authorities. Too late for that now I guess.
>>
No. 387715 ID: 0d7a83

>>387640
Avoid Garleek Pain at all costs.
Trust me on this.
>>
No. 387718 ID: ed57e8

omlette du fromage is eggs and cheese, in case you weren't aware.
>>
No. 387736 ID: b6edd6

>>387718
Why would he not know french (or whatever language that is)?
>>
No. 387800 ID: 1854db

>>387715
Pain means bread in french. That's probably just garlic bread.
>>
No. 388539 ID: 9cfa09
File 133003034542.png - (136.44KB , 403x388 , 821.png )
388539

>>387645
Erh... yes, I suppose that would be silly wouldn't it?
>>387715
I happen to rather like garlic.

We order a plate of shellfish and mushrooms, some white wine and a basket of garlic bread.

I do have to work a bit on my enunciation for the waitress though. I gather she's not as acute to Verhimen enunciation as I am accustomed to. Jolienne finds this amusing.
>>
No. 388546 ID: 9cfa09
File 133003450363.png - (409.98KB , 900x600 , 822.png )
388546

>>387718
>>387736
>>387800
Lingua, a derivative of the old French, yes, but there's a lot of other stuff in there too if I'm not mistaken, primarily other 'romance' languages, but with some Kobaltic and English additions.

A lot of the 'Fortress' humans here and in the Homelands speak a somewhat 'purer' mixture of English and French they carried with them from before the Old Wars. Northcoasters, by contrast, use a degraded mixture of Seatongue and a host of other languages, being primarily descendants of later settlers or refugees.
>>
No. 388548 ID: 9cfa09
File 133003504407.png - (207.38KB , 829x434 , 823.png )
388548

>>387648
>>387650
"Oh, so, how were those travelers, the fellow and his injured son? I haven't had the focus to follow up on them but I would love to hear."
"Ahh, Ahmmm not really sure. Ah don't tend much to caren for the sick 'r wounded. as I probly should."
"I was under the impression that was a duty of priestesses, well Marians anyhow."
"Uhm... yeah, but I'm sorta... rough 'n not very good at all that stuff I guess. So mother 'as me doen other thing fer us."
"May I ask what sort of thing, or is that a sect secret?"
"Diggen mostly."
"Digging for…?"
"Yeah, diggen fer awld things n stuff.
"Oh, archeology, in conjunction with the Cyclicans?"
"Yeah, sum, mother collects awld things too. Awld folks fond a awld things ah spose. Headed up to Warrendown now for 'nother dig."
"Warrendown, that's up near Severn'arie, right? Hoping to find aircraft, perhaps an armor or something."
"Fraid not finded many machineries, looken fer... older stuff, standen stones n such... in the woods. Prolly wouldn't be interesten teh yeh ah guess, won't bore ye gabben bout it. So I guess yor headed to meet th' dragon?"
"What dragon?"
"Oh, I hear Gallugerrone, was spotted roundabouts the Peak, prolly diplomatizen or somthen with the Men. Guess you might wanna learn teh speak out a little bit if yer wanted the short-ears teh catch yer sayens, specially if they're all masked up, nearly deaf as they are."

I'm fairly sure she's talking about the humans there... dragons don't wear masks. Still, yet another thing to worry about. I hope she doesn't still think I am a dragon... our family hasn't had any dragonic patronage since the Old Wars (a bit of an oddity for an 'old family'.)
>>
No. 388549 ID: 252e1b

>>388548

Standing stones... does she refer to megaliths? Solitary and grouped standing stones, designed to be monument sites, wayfarer markers, and in the cases of complex sites calendars? Such things are actually very interesting.

I've heard rumors that some such sites are built on ley lines to help mark and anchor them. Just a rumor though, so I have low confidence in the value of those data.
>>
No. 388552 ID: b6edd6

No reason not to explain that you are searching for a thief who stole some important machinery from your family.
>>
No. 388581 ID: a2fa74

>>388548
You seem the type to skulk around old ruins all day researching whatever sort of things you sniff out. You could express your interest in her field.

Also, you probably want to tell her you're not really a dragon. Maybe phrase it like you think she's getting a dig in over your deception. That's not the sort of ruse you want to keep up any longer than you have to, since you are quite crunchy and good with cheese.
>>
No. 388933 ID: ec8060

I thought you were a scholar, August. Shouldn't you have some experience in modifying your speech to make yourself clear? What ARE you good for anyway. Anyway, while keeping her talking about her work may be a good move to keep her talking about YOU and YOUR reasons for being here, don't actually become invested. You already have TOO MUCH ON YOUR PLATE. Even quest journals get full eventually.
>>
No. 389433 ID: 998c6e
File 133046229409.png - (330.38KB , 900x600 , 824.png )
389433

>>388552
"I'm actually looking to apprehend a thief who stole some rather valuable machinery from the family."
"A reason yor keepen sech... larcenous company?"
"One among many, you would agree a favor was owed, yes?"
"Ah could imaginen worse'n the fate 'e was so quick teh flee, though ah s'pose 'e didn't 'ave much else to go when ah found what was lefta 'is little band a thieves."
"What was left?"
"Shreds n tatters mostly. They'd camped n shantied up roundbout ah... somethen they shouldn'ta."
Must have been a rather large and dangerous something?"
>>
No. 389444 ID: 998c6e
File 133046592027.png - (228.29KB , 674x599 , 825.png )
389444

"Let's jest say mother's interests in awld things started in 'er own lands."
"Mmmm, so they found something they shouldn't have? I must admit, I've aquired more than a passing interest in archeology. I would be quite interested to hear a bit more."

>>388549
Even excluding the fortresses and arceo-cities of the prewar a great range of peoples have been known to build the 'megaliths' dotted across the landscape. I've heard of them being associated with hauntings, sacrificial cults, doorways to other worlds and the tenuous bindings of spirits. I wouldn't mind studying some.
>>388933
Though my schedule is admittedly rather busy right now.
>>
No. 389460 ID: 998c6e
File 133046916211.png - (161.86KB , 790x473 , 826.png )
389460

"Mmmm~ Well I'm sure you would like tah know all de little secrets ah could whisper in yor ears... but everythen is a little give'n take doncha think sugaar? Ah mean, ah still know so little of you. Yor family is whispered fer being jest ah bit strange, for haven close ties with magicians, but not dragons."
>>388581
"Perhaps, but those are things about my family, not me in particular. Though, I must confess, I'm not a very public fellow, and dragons are known for being rather more... how shall I put it?"
"Show 'n grand-e-ur? Yet, yeh strike me more the type ah fella fulla all kindsa fine secrets."
"A-and that interests you?"

She shoots me a rather predatory look before taking a sip from her glass and popping another morsel into her mouth. Taking note of the light pressure of her tail wrapped around my left ankle, I can't say if the implication that she's aquired some more cerebral interests in my person should be more worrying than a merely sexual one.

Still, it seems she has some intent that we talk just a bit longer. Any further suggestion to guide our conversation?
>>
No. 389494 ID: 62e83b

Be sexy and mysterious. She'll love that and I'm sure your travelling companion will allow you some time alone if need be :V
>>
No. 389500 ID: 1854db

Well, assuming that the info she's offering isn't sensitive information, you could tell her more about the mission you're on now. That seems like an even trade.

We should definitely not tell her anything you wouldn't tell the Inquisition.
>>
No. 389501 ID: b6edd6

...I can't decide whether it is a good idea or a terrible idea to mention how you recently encountered a curious fellow with an unusual umbrella.
>>
No. 389520 ID: d5ee6f

>>389460
Tell her about the ghosts you found in the Warren. Something her family may know a bit about, but out of their reach and interesting.
>>
No. 389616 ID: ec8060

>>389520
>>389501
>>389500
Ha ha let's NOT use this opportunity to show our hands or otherwise potentially set ourselves up for sabotage. You know what guys with secrets DON'T do? Tell them. Then they're guys without secrets. If this girl is a short term 'ally' then see what more info you can get about what she's up to and what else you can pry from her about her family. If you want to make her a longer term ally then strive to be that sort of person that attracts her interest and possibly her trust. Turn up the charisma and sexiness but don't be overt in any sort of pursuit, she probably gets plenty of action judging by her personality.
>>
No. 391273 ID: aaa0df
File 133125968249.png - (263.63KB , 930x630 , 827.png )
391273

I decide to spin her the (primarily true) tale of some successful ghost-hunting beneath our city, leaving out the key parts where were were actually hunting down and murdering that 'spy thing'. She seems interested to hear of my talent in spiritual detection and accepts the story, yet somehow she finds the notion of a 'kobold rowdyhouse' hidden so close to ostensibly haunted tunnels just a bit farfetched given their reputed sensitivity to such things, a notion I hadn't previously considered.
>>
No. 391280 ID: aaa0df
File 133126098270.png - (418.89KB , 930x630 , 828.png )
391280

In exchange she paints me a scene of her arrival on the scene of the 'massacre' at Larcen's former bandit camp.

"So they were already dead when you got there?"
"Yah, scouts gone first inna clearing and reported it back. Had to check it mahself, bodies... well lumpy parts of em anyow. Was like someone strewed the place all apart, n' there inna middle like yer boy said, a bit ol monolith"
"Wait, so he reported on his own men?"
"Mother gots ways a maken a fella sing likka angel. We were gunna just integrate 'em mostly inta the guard wiff 'em as her little trophy thief. A gentel type surrender, parently e ad other plans though."
"...and they were already dead, so no new little worker bees huh? I do remember you said she studied old ruins though, so that had to have been a catch for you?"
"Mother's interest inna story he told erh bout them campen round some big stones... but they musta been half crazy to camp round them cause they jest look 'wrong', even inna daylight. Worse with bit's n pieces splattered all over it... looken like somethen sploded or a damn cyclone touched down n twisted em all round it."
>>
No. 391291 ID: aaa0df
File 133126195641.png - (106.31KB , 290x789 , 829.png )
391291

"What was so wrong about them?"
"All of em were on top of the otha, the crosspieces see? The one on the left was always sitten on toppa the one on the right, but that can't work you know?"
"Erh... if they were leaning then i-"
"But they weren't leanen 'tall! all of em were perfectly level, but walk 'round it, an they're progressen down all the way, but never get any shorter."
"So, impossible geometry, or just some clever architect with a mind for optical illusions... would be hard to tell, unless I could be allowed to get some measurements."
>>
No. 391297 ID: aaa0df
File 133126223398.png - (659.15KB , 930x630 , 830.png )
391297

"Hahah, yeah, Ah'm sure yew'd like teh get yer hands on sum measurements wouldn'cha sugaar~"
...
"Ah... ahahah *cough* Hhmm."
>>
No. 391302 ID: aaa0df
File 133126258475.png - (726.12KB , 930x630 , 831.png )
391302

We make good time to the Peak enjoying some further smalltalk and the gossip about the local families, her being rather more connected than my own recluse habits I find myself listening more and making merely the occasional observation as she dominates in this field of knowledge.
>>
No. 391315 ID: aaa0df
File 133126405814.png - (329.78KB , 930x630 , 832.png )
391315

"Who was she?"
"An associate I'd met while traveling previously."
"Is she yer giiirlfreind? I thought you already were supposed to have one of those?
"No, she is not my 'giiiirlfreind', besides I am... nevermind, where is your master anyhow?"
"E's busy getten our stuff I guess, well mostly your stuff... an my rocket"
"We are 'in' a city. Civilization proper... sorta, what are you going to do with that damn thing?"
"Hurt badguys? Send em right to hell."
He bares his sharp little teeth at this, a few notably missing and still unregenerate.
"I'm sure they will have plenty of company if you go off in some alleyway.
>>
No. 391317 ID: aaa0df
File 133126458683.png - (352.52KB , 930x630 , 833.png )
391317

"She's gone right?"
"Lars, I don't think she really cares about you."
"Hey Mister, how are you fitting in there?
"Snugly... Oh August, how could hew be so to malign us, she obvious ez tryink to be regaining us, mayhaps even for de firing of 'er own passionz."
"That seems, really unlikely."
"Hew know, like mother as daughter, yes?
"No...no... not really. Now then, if you'll both cease your shenanigans I'd like to have a good look at this map and plan our next moves."
>>
No. 391318 ID: aaa0df
File 133126531664.png - (526.84KB , 929x591 , 834.png )
391318

appologies for the long wait, midterms interfered

Okay, any of the areas marked in yellow here are human only, so there's no way he's hiding in there.

Reeshyk and the Sump are the poorest neighborhoods, being adjacent or among the offal and waste of the rest of the city. Hightown is the wealthiest Verhimen district, with most of the inhabitants being housed within the bedrock itself. Lots of gambling, nice restaurants, classy shopping, that sort of thing.

Greenthumb's is next door and is mostly farmers, retired soldiers or those who want curious the luxury of agrarian lifestyle in the city.

Pompey is the entertainment district, a rather rundown and formerly abandoned section of fortifications near an old farie 'airdrop'.

Downtown is the oldest of the Verhimen inhabited neighborhoods, old fortifications used for generations upon generations, sometimes even the same families I imagine, live by the wall, die on the wall...

The 'yards' are divided into 'wildmill valley' an expanse of gardens and small pasture, the large excavation and ore processing yard which refines spoils laboriously hauled up from the central borehole, and manufacturing and industrial district.
>>
No. 391348 ID: 1854db

>>391318
What do we know about our quarry's personality and history? Any family in the area? Old hangouts? The more we know about the man, the better we can figure out where he's hiding, and what our best leads are.
>>
No. 391466 ID: e3aff6

We should discreetly check for how active the 'used machinery' section of the black market is. If we can make inquiries like a potential 'customer' without drawing too much scrutiny that would make finding him much easier.
>>
No. 391555 ID: ec8060

Judging from the info we've got, I'd expect your target to be rather cocky and would expect to have escaped your family's reach. I'd look for him in uptown, enjoying the fruits of his labors.
>>
No. 391857 ID: a9ba96

>>391555

Agreed. While I don't think he'll necessarily be advertising his presence he probably hasn't done too much to fly under the radar. Ask around the seedier districts, either the entertainment district or downtown, and we'll probably get a lead somewhere.
>>
No. 392366 ID: 8095a3
File 133162013521.png - (341.86KB , 930x630 , 835.png )
392366

"Tell me now, why is it I am the old one here, yet the only to be carrying anything heavier than a penknife, hmm?"
"You heard him."
"Your stuff too..."
"Yes master August, I would ask 'why' exactly we are bringing 'those things' here to possibly be stolen or confiscated, but I would probably rather not know the logic behind this."
"Sound logic we can both agree on Sir Weldendon."
>>
No. 392374 ID: 8095a3
File 133162164944.png - (327.95KB , 930x630 , 836.png )
392374

We ascend the northern staircase... an endeavor which seems to stretch out indeterminately long, each step shallow enough, but one of so many, the cool of the night and the altitude itself brings its own discomfort in heavy breathing.

Kurtail is characteristically full of youthful questions and energy while I find the stairs just a bit taxing, not having enjoyed so recent a nap on the train. Thus I let other companions answer his questions while I mull over our next move.

"Why are there so few people out this evening? Is there something wrong?"
" Humans... they hate the dark. Most of our kind live on the other side of the mountain"
"Mmmm mehby should been tinking on darkness before deciding to live en glorified mineshaft."

>>391348
I think back to our discussion of our target back on the airship: >>376366

His family ostensibly hails from Lagoa, a considerable ways to the east, beyond any immediate help or influence. Father also mentioned that he 'treated cruelly' some of our women, so he might gather a reputation for being a heartless, or even sadistic fellow.
>>391466
That would probably be in the stockyards and manufacturing district, plenty of warehouses, machinery, that sort of thing I imagine.
>>
No. 392382 ID: 8095a3
File 133162301544.png - (319.43KB , 930x630 , 837.png )
392382

Eventually, we reach the top.

"Oh Saints blessed, benches..."
"My kneeeees...
"You... at your age complaining about knees... I would... thrash you for that."
"Yeah, could totally do dat twice, meybeh tree times more, but give us moment... for de breathink... yesss..."

>>391555
You meant Hightown perhaps? I suppose if he made good enough off our components already and had no worries of being noticed, he may put up in a nice place there. I can't say we've been nipping at his heals to be sure.
>>391857
Hmmm, the entertainment district? Certainly sounds seedy enough. Pompey... wasn't that the name of some sort of legendary city destroyed for it's decadence? Then again, you mention Downtown and that would be right next to the most sensible black market locations.

"Ehhh August, what you tink, maybeh we should be splittink up hmm? Cover more ground?"
"We might even be less, conspketus- erhm... noticeable?"
"Conspicuous."
"Yeah, I was gunna say that."
"Mmmm, there's strength in numbers though. This isn't our town, our ground, remember?"
"We would also need to reconvene somewhere, a meeting place, our own base of operations."
>>
No. 392406 ID: d5ee6f

>>392382
Mental note: Ask Larcen some time if the Matron smelled fertile when he was with her.
>>391466
Stay together, check the used machinery area. Make like you're shopping for components to upgrade your glass production. Arc Furnaces, another generator, all that jazz.
>>
No. 393660 ID: a9ba96

Depending on where you plan to look first I would advise against splitting up, at least for now. While splitting up would allow for more ground to be covered, if you're going to hit somewhere like Pompey or downtown I think it would be best if you stuck together. Especially if you plan to be getting involved in the black market, you won't want to be alone if things go wrong. The types of people involved in the black market rarely, if ever, operate alone, and since you don't really know what you're dealing with just yet you shouldn't either.
>>
No. 394803 ID: 854a4d
File 133238132090.png - (329.82KB , 930x630 , 838.png )
394803

>>393660
"No no, we should stick together for now. This is risky business, we do not need anyone disappearing by themselves in places such as these."

>>392406
As we navigate towards the northerly gate into the industrial district I maneuver closer to Larcen.
"Lars, may I ask you a rather... private question?"
"Hmhmh, hew may ask, whe may answer."
"When you were with her, the Matron I mean, did she smell fertile."
"Ahhh, sucha question to ask, hew know whe are gentleman, ez not hour place to be telleen."
"Oh, erh, sorry then."
"Ez private matter, still, no, not as such. Reguardless she ez, vhery... healthy lady, vhery strong for her age, or any age I tink, how you say? Vivicious."

"No, running. No leaping?"
"Humans startle easily, especially at night, though they won’t care so much once in the city proper. So long as you don’t try hopping up into the forbidden zone we should be fine. Besides, if you still feel like leaping about in full kit after climbing all those stairs you should have chosen a different knighthood than the Aeronautical."
”I suppose one could say our prowess makes them… jumpy.”
*Nhghh*
>>
No. 394811 ID: 854a4d
File 133238312935.png - (246.98KB , 930x630 , 839.png )
394811

We have to wait a while at the massive gates until eventually enough travelers accumulate to warrant an opening. The doors slide smoothly into the walls with a heavy rumbling and I can feel my fur prickle coupled with a tinny humming at the edge of my hearing whilst we pass under the arch.

We are only somewhat delayed as they seem to pay some special attention to checking Larcen twice before waving us all into the city.
>>
No. 394815 ID: 854a4d
File 133238497496.png - (296.80KB , 930x630 , 840.png )
394815

My nostrils are assaulted by scents varied and diverse, from the metallic and oily rubberized smells of industry, to chalky stone dust and rank human sweat or verhimen musk. I can smell stored grains, goldrice, saltwhick, and flax, sweet alcohols and sugars mingle with the bitter carboxylic or acetic acids drifting though the air, very chemical, vitriolic, so little of the scents of clean wood, soil, or greenery.

"Ohhh, a tanktruck!"
"Lovely, it's probably full of fuel."
"And almost certainly why they bothered to open the door so late at night, we should be finding a place to rest soon."
"Soon enough, but since we have to pass though this district anyhow, why not check the field before the other pieces get a chance to know they are playing hmm?"
>>
No. 394818 ID: 854a4d
File 133238569435.png - (219.95KB , 863x539 , 841.png )
394818

We check by a local warehouse owner, a dealer in machinery and mechanisms Sir Weldendon has delt with in the past.

"Oooaye... So yer looken for a nice purchase? I have only the finest of manufacture and refurbished wares."

"We haven't had much to spend of late I fear, so we would be quite open to purchasing second-hand goods so long as they worked, preferably something that could be integrated with goblin systems."

"Mmmm yeah, I forgot yer running on that lousy reclaimed stuff out there on the front, no offense, yeah... I don't deal too much into that sorta tinkertoy springcog nonsense. Too many workers injured or frustrated trying to fix the damn devices, much less rig them all to play nice. but tomorrow, my nephew, he knows a few venders for that sorta stuff, he'll be in around noonish so check back then."
>>
No. 394820 ID: 854a4d
File 133238739512.png - (301.96KB , 691x574 , 842.png )
394820

We take the list and our leave, ready to find an inn in which to rest our heads or legs.
>>
No. 394836 ID: 854a4d
File 133239100065.png - (324.56KB , 930x630 , 843.png )
394836

A fellow crossing from across the square hurries towards the open door behind me, rudely jostling me in his haste.

"An 'excuse me' probably wouldn't kill you."

The pedestrian unexpectedly whirls about and begins spitting epithets in my face.

"Fucks ter yer mai curr, yah gunna clink bout it? Donchu be spitten no sump at me clawless clatterbox-"

I am quite suddenly taken with the urge to hurt him, to make him cringe and scamper away in fear, who does this urchin think he is talking to me?
>>
No. 394838 ID: 854a4d
File 133239133842.png - (175.55KB , 506x529 , 844.png )
394838

..but that wouldn't be proper, it would be beneath me. It would draw attention and that wouldn't be smart, I like to think I am sagacious... perceptive... Although, I cannot confess to always being so.

The last time I truly fought, I was young, just entering my apprenticeship, fires burning brightly within me. I was blinded by those fires, by my pride and desire, by misinterpretation of intent... of place...
>>
No. 394840 ID: 854a4d
File 133239167125.png - (449.50KB , 930x630 , 845.png )
394840

of profession...

It was Autumn's Flame burning hot within me, I had wished to enkindle what I'd conceived was to be mine and mine alone... and told to wait my turn.

Incised, outrage, I would not be spoken to thusly. I would not, how could I? I had to defend my honor, folly or not. It was my right, my duty! I issued challenge!
>>
No. 394848 ID: 854a4d
File 133239335023.png - (322.48KB , 930x630 , 846.png )
394848

Of course I failed, I was humiliated, chased off through the rainy streets of my own city, pelted with his mockery and stones. I was a joke held under one's whiskers for months.

Though... already having been made the fool, better I'd fought, and lost. Struggled and been forced down, than to have simply granted rank like some geldling coward. How could I have lived that down, a prince slinking away both a fool AND a coward!

Even so...

I heard a remarkably familiar waterlogged clump of rotten fur, bones, and an embedded length of wire was pulled from a draincatch weeks later.

While she and all others of her trade were thenceforth to practice only without the bounds of the city walls... I think she moved far away.

No matter, I threw myself deeper into my studies, my books, my seclusion.
>>
No. 394851 ID: 854a4d
File 133239403701.png - (396.43KB , 930x630 , 847.png )
394851

Yet the question returns again, CAUTION, or COURAGE?
>>
No. 394861 ID: 0006f5

CAUTION. they'll get theirs, all of them. but not right now.
>>
No. 394863 ID: 0fdd76

Caution. Getting into a fight with some nameless ruffian isn't worth the time or effort, despite his rudeness.
>>
No. 394868 ID: 1854db

>>394851
This is a different situation.

Just ask him who the hell he is.
>>
No. 394933 ID: 0f1a12

And check your purse as pickpockets are often set up like this.
>>
No. 394941 ID: b6edd6

Remember, it is not merely cautious to remain discreet here, it is your duty. You are pursuing a criminal through unfriendly territory, and indiscretion could endanger both your mission and your companions.

>>394933
Also this. The the situation smells of pickpockets. You might want to inform your companions as well, indirect distraction is a fairly common tactic.
>>
No. 394970 ID: ec8060

Are you really going to bow your head and let a common ruffian, one who may have picked your pocket, walk away unscathed? It may be prudent to try to be discreet, but you're ALREADY making a scene, and there are people watching. Rolling over and baring your throat isn't going to impress anyone or make them want to tell you where your target is. Show some COURAGE, man!
>>
No. 395051 ID: d5ee6f

Cut his throat. End the fight in one blow. Weakness attracts predators.
>>
No. 395282 ID: e27575

Thrash. Call thief, hes a pickpocket.
>>
No. 395386 ID: 48dff4

There is nothing to gain right now by fighting other than looking like you weren't afraid to fight. It's just not worth it right now with what you are trying to accomplish here. You don't want to be known for being aggressive or starting fights. Being new in town, running around with a posse, and you being the first one to act aggressively you could end up with a lot of the blame. Also in a fight both parties are often blamed anyway.

Even though he is aggressive, rude and all you should try to diffuse the situation. Unhand him and continue to your destination. No need to say anything. Saying just about anything that isn't submitting to him would encourage him to fight to defend looking like if he gave in you and to what you said.
>>
No. 402870 ID: 929fb5
File 133502885150.png - (432.85KB , 930x630 , 848.png )
402870

>>394970
>>395282
>>395282
Yes, I will break him, I am better, than him, I am superior by blood and bone!

>>394868
It doesn't matter who he is, I don't care who he is, I WANT HIM TO FEAR ME! I WANT-
>>394941
>it is your duty.

I chose caution, I back down, I relinquish.

With a final snarl and a jaunty adjustment of his cap the thug stalks away, muttering his private recriminations and recompense of violence should I have persisted.
>>
No. 402875 ID: 929fb5
File 133502907418.png - (285.43KB , 729x616 , 849.png )
402875

"Why didn't you hurt him big brother, why didn't you finish it?!"
"We don't need to draw more attention with a fight, we are on a mission."
"...but, our honor."
"Later, we can make them pay later... also check your pockets, it was probably a distraction for a thief. We have to be on our guard."

>>394933
I take this moment to check myself. It ‘feels’ like everything is where it should be, all my catches in order. It would be ridiculous of course, to carry all of my silver in a singular, easily stolen coin-purse.
>>
No. 402880 ID: 929fb5
File 133502949154.png - (270.47KB , 930x630 , 850.png )
402880

"What was all that?"
"Nothing important, a simple disagreement, the people here are disrespectful and rude."
"He didn't defend our honor, he should have thrashed him!"
"It's not important right now we have more important business."
"But now nobody will respect us, how will we get any help if they they think we are cowards."

"Ughhhh... I knew this was all a bad idea."
"What was a bad idea?"
He sighs and rubs his forehead wearily.
"Nothing... milord. We should be going, it is late."
>>
No. 402902 ID: 929fb5
File 133503131892.png - (302.99KB , 930x630 , 851.png )
402902

"If I may interrupt, gentlemen?"
A rather tired looking lowlander in a feather coat draws himself a bit closer, the young and colorfully clothed highlander lady by his side providing a curious and immediate contrast to his bent form.

"Yes, what do you wish sir?"
"Ah, where are my manners? My name is Sorrel Perroquette. I bore witness to your little encounter and thought I might take the opportunity show you some of the hospitality of this city instead, and perhaps I may express some appreciation for those who value, if not peaceable and civilized intentions, at least some subtly and dignity of character?"
”And this hospitality would be?”
”My family has a spare suite in our uptown apartments, it would honor me if I could convince you to fill them during your stay in this city, Sir…?”

My head pounds and my palms still itch with unvented indignation, but I am tired, this place is noisy and oily smelling. I feel confused, irritated, why should he have any respect for the ease with which I back down from the least obstacle to my will?

Distractions, should I take up the offered hospitality of this stranger?
>>
No. 402918 ID: b85f8c

>>402902
Do it. Perhaps he can serve as a source of information as well as lodgings. If he cherishes subtlety, then perhaps his employees do as well? Subtlety is a prized possession amongst those in the information trade...
>>
No. 403027 ID: b6edd6

>I feel confused, irritated, why should he have any respect for the ease with which I back down from the least obstacle to my will?
Because it is no exercise of will at all to fight someone so obnoxious and unintimidating. Willpower is overcoming your instincts to pursue your goals, and as such only applies to fights you fear. Like, say, a battle with a wyrd-eyed mind predator on its own terms.
>>
No. 403048 ID: ed57e8

indeed, avoiding a fight with something so dumb is wise not cowardice.
>>
No. 403106 ID: d5ee6f

>>402902
Why not? A local contact is great. Be on your guard, though.
>>
No. 412482 ID: 1cf9fb
File 133714410002.png - (315.29KB , 930x630 , 852.png )
412482

"Ach, any chance hew pissenk off de local types August, or haz our head suddenly become target for empty can with other reason?"
I turn to see that it seems Larcen's nursing a bump on his head, and see a soup tin resting on the ground a ways back.
"Mmnnn yes, many of our more vulgar sorts hold such strutting and fighting as their highest form of entertainment, not so happy to be denied their show of blood and arms."

Regarding the weary faces of my cohort I consider Mister Perroquette's offer for a moment before replying.

"Sauterelle my name is August de Sauterelle."
"Ahhh, proper nobility, an old foundational family too, interesting, very interesting."
>>
No. 412500 ID: 1cf9fb
File 133714507896.png - (217.31KB , 809x542 , 853.png )
412500

"Mister Peroquette, I accept your offer of hospitality, it would honor me to be your guest."
"Excellent, excellent."
>>
No. 412518 ID: 1cf9fb
File 133714609720.png - (274.12KB , 876x620 , 854.png )
412518

We make our way through the maze of brickwork canyons, pavingstone plateaus and forests of obnoxiously buzzing sodium lamps till our host manages to flag down a passing streetcar.

Small droplets of a bitter tasting precipitation begin to filter down from the sky, driving home all those who are not either too enraptured to care or have no place 'to' go.
>>
No. 412547 ID: 1cf9fb
File 133714820097.png - (199.75KB , 789x629 , 854.png )
412547

We arrive at his family's dwelling and he joins us for a late dinner, we make nice but speak of nothing worth mentioning. By the time we are fed and shown to a room with a bed it is well past midnight, we collapse about the place with little more thought or discussion.
>>
No. 412564 ID: 1cf9fb
File 133714970768.png - (229.10KB , 789x629 , 855.png )
412564

...
I've overslept haven't I?
>>
No. 412565 ID: e3aff6

Probably not by that much, or the others would have woken you.
>>
No. 412567 ID: 5c94e7

>>412565
This is likely the case.
I can't thin of any sort of situation in which they would consider waking you to be detrimental.
>>
No. 412580 ID: b85f8c

>>412564
Yep! Get dressed quick and see if you missed breakfast.
>>
No. 416535 ID: 22c05c
File 133816761696.png - (310.24KB , 691x531 , 856.png )
416535

I hurriedly throw on my clothes and exit the room, a central courtyard shows last night's droplets have become a steady drizzle on grey walls and steel pillars.

Two children play at melee, armed and armored in common household goods whilst shrilly piping their verbal violence in a mock archaic.

"Forsooth, yield knave or beeth striken down full welleth."
"Nay thou welp, for tis known the depths of thine dishonor!"
"Excuse me but could either of you perhaps tell me where I could get a bite-"
>>
No. 416572 ID: 22c05c
File 133817368945.png - (163.12KB , 592x622 , 857.png )
416572

For a moment they both look to me before the one armed with a broom is tackled to the ground and... his helm stripped?

"Impudent! You dare?"
"Hurry fair hero, sally forth beyond the stairs of stone, descend ye twice and twice again fully, down the corridors of eternal twilight where non torch doth illuminate, beyond the fourth portal and the oww-"
"No, I command thee, return to me the chalice of infinite thought and I shall rewarmhpphpparhhpph!"
>>
No. 416573 ID: 22c05c
File 133817374562.png - (182.93KB , 714x552 , 858.png )
416573

I catch the flying helmet, apparently a mere colander as their struggle degrades into a tinny stream of yelps and childish insults amid the tangled tussle of their ragged gear.

"Oookay then, I just be, off then. I suppose.... down two flights... four doors... no four flights..."
>>
No. 416575 ID: 22c05c
File 133817415259.png - (197.55KB , 656x445 , 859.png )
416575

I find a smoky kitchen and return the cooking implement to much thanks, stating that I had 'found it', not wishing to implicate any more than necessary.

Apparently I am far too late for any breakfast, my companions already having left hours ago. Larcen offered to escort our host's first wife to market and back, while my little brother and his master left to ‘attend a meeting,' expecting to return by supper.

My host however, would be partial to taking tea with me, and thus I am goaded towards his quarters. This entire villa of apartments seems primarily the abode of his family and servants... the distinct lack of kobolds around to attend lesser chores leaving much work for them. Noting they seem unsure how properly to treat me, I wonder how much they know of my lineage. Having been under the impression that the people in this city would be rude and spiteful of a noble title I instead find myself slightly unnerved by their bowing and humble address.
>>
No. 416577 ID: 22c05c
File 133817437246.png - (314.55KB , 788x580 , 860.png )
416577

"Ahh, your companions thought it may be best to let you sleep after your journey."
I consider this, but my paranoia thinks it may be less a desire to see me well rested, and more to not be embarrassed again in public.
"I see, slept half of the day away, so I was, quite tired."

"If I may ask, do you yourself have any plans today? I'm planning to meet a rather important visitor to our city today, and wonder if you would like to accompany me?"

Hmmm, I should probably be undertaking my own investigations about the city, despite my companion’s reluctance to include me. I still have a duty to contribute to that criminal's capture.

I also would like to get my linespinner cleaned up to a functional condition, a city like this should have the required technical skills around
>>
No. 416580 ID: d5ee6f

>>416577
Think longterm. You have goals, but here you have an opportunity.
>>
No. 416581 ID: d5ee6f

>>416577
In other words, take the opportunity.
>>
No. 416583 ID: 664f36

Your line spinner takes priority level -Infinity. We don't care about it and neither should you, not now. However, it's possible that the person your host is meeting with may be the person you're seeking. After all, right now you should be trying to meet people, get some contacts, see who this fellow might be connected with.
>>
No. 416617 ID: 2eb283

>>416577
Perhaps our friend here has some technical knowledge, at least from a collector's standpoint. His showcase there looks exquisite and well-kept. I'm sure he'd be happy to talk about them.
>>
No. 418617 ID: 88e242
File 133878339170.png - (314.26KB , 788x580 , 861.png )
418617

"I confess, I was thinking of taking care of a few things of my own, namely following up some leads on technical repair, do you mind if I take a look at you collection?"
"Please, but of course...
However, I am not one to turn down the opportunity to make connections."
"I do not intend to disapoint, this visitor is of paralleled quality. Though if you are looking for examples of 'technical repair' a Shrine of the Innominatam Imparatos may not be to your pleasure."
"Excuse me?"
"Ahh, not a very popular saint I fear, being nameless tends to have such an effect.
Twas a well verified event in which a nameless demolitions soldier managed to hold back a tide of combatant for almost two hours, despite having been part of a woefully ill-prepared and supplied unit. This fellow’s courage in engaging in unarmed melee as even their armor lost power exemplified the art of the honorable lost cause, perseverance in the face of the impossible, and the ultimate obscurity of heroism. As you may imagine, they did not survive the conflict but bought enough time for a handful to be saved from the depredations of the Wirehand Ghouls in the Belethuzar Conflict. All weapons laid upon the shrine are broken, trophies and relics alike."

>>
No. 418619 ID: 88e242
File 133878370771.png - (349.42KB , 930x630 , 862.png )
418619

"Doesn't sound incredibly encouraging."
"I'm afraid it's not a very lightheated story... but... I feel a certain kinship... if I may tell the tale?"
"Who am I to refuse so gracious a host?"
"Ahh, well, it is not such a great burden as you might think. You see, though no noble, my family has have long been traders in trans-oceanic goods.

Not so long ago, when I was probably about your age, I became a major investor in a new colony far to the south and across the sea. Indeed, we were only just above the equator, where the sun warms great forests so torrid that even the ladyfolk will wear as little cloth as absolutely necessary to prevent…”

"Ah-ahhh I-rn intriguing. Sounds like a place one might profit from inviting some of my more cloistered female acquaintances. I can’t imagine much else worth braving such a hellish clime."
"Ahhh, lumber, the vast wealth of jungles unexploited for long centuries. You would think man had never laid a finger there were it not for the traces of ruins and artifacts to be found here and there amidst the roots. Yet most importantly, not a fairy to be found and a wag a haughty finger at our trespass."
"Sounds like a grand opportunity."
"Oh yes, we became… quite wealthy. Building simplistic wooden caravels to transport even more wood, ore and fruit to the homeland. The vast majority arrived and were deconstructed into pure profit!"
"Aha, A great and profitable adventure."

His expression seems one of blissful recollection before fading grimly back into the present.
"Mmm yes, if only that was where the story ended."
>>
No. 418620 ID: 88e242
File 133878377379.png - (302.54KB , 930x630 , 863.png )
418620

"You see, the natives, mostly disparate tribal kobolds, were vicious and hostile.
"Little chance at civilizing them?"
"They were surprisingly brave, albeit, dismayed to learn their toxins did not drive us so near to death as previous intruders. Their ambushes, while quite daring, generally routed or could be converted into erh... 'recruitment opportunities' quite easily."
"Mmmm, so, they could be made to fall into line with some persuasion and perspiration?"
"It was helpful... the day being so intolerably hot as to forbid almost all work except at twilight they, however, seemed much more acclimatized, if only we could break them, that is, of the worship of their bloodthirsty, heathen solar gods."
"They refused to work in the day?"
"They refused to do a lot of things based on this or that superstition handed down from their sorcerer priest-kings."
>>
No. 418624 ID: 88e242
File 133878395338.png - (340.01KB , 930x630 , 864.png )
418624

"But shouldn't we be able to resist such petty tricks?"
"Oh yes, those weren't so dangerous after all, easily shamed and deposed, no, it was their gods that ended us."
"The gods!?"
"They struck in the hottest parts of the day, a plague of serpent creatures of all forms and descriptions. Terrible. We had no backup for weeks, nowhere to retreat to but the sea. Ninety-seven percent losses... dead or worse. I barely survived.
"How?"
I was crushed and poisoned, almost to dying. Left for dead among the dead, but one of the scavengers, a group of goblin pirates who had formerly made raids upon us, must have recognized my value when they arrived to the ruin only days later. You see, though shattered in form and frailty I am still or some worth it seems. My family paid the 'recovery fee' easily.”
>>
No. 418632 ID: 88e242
File 133878554577.png - (248.32KB , 899x630 , 865.png )
418632

"A sorrowful tale my friend, what now?"
"Now? I do this and that... I fancy myself a philosopher of sorts. Before my downfall I had sought to marry into a noble title... now I study what it actually means to be 'noble' at all."
"Sounds like a pursuit of worth and honor, any findings?"
"Mmmm, if only my results were so..."

He trails off and I note what seems to be a ruined bracelet of a rather sinister supernatural cast among his collection. I could probably...
>>
No. 418639 ID: 88e242
File 133878637725.png - (411.58KB , 930x630 , 866.png )
418639

"-Ahh, but now, now we must prepare ourselves, gird and arm ourselves to meet, to join in the awesome presence of, a DRAGON!"

"A what!?"

"Gallugerrone, the Golden has arrived, and I am among those who have been granted audience, to present to him the gift of some essays and texts from my collection, and *cough* a few of my own creation."

Gentlemen... I really don't think... I... don't think a dragon is precisely a 'low key' meeting.

What if he looks right through me, should I go armed, unarmed, I mean, it's like a spiritual powerhouse, it could probably just glance my direction... and I'd wither away. My family has never been known to bow before the dragons.
>>
No. 418725 ID: d5ee6f

>>418639
I believe you should ask your new friend here the proper etiquette of a visiting noble to an unknown dragon. I recommend you do bow, but not too deeply. You have an excuse: this is not YOUR dragon-liege.
>>
No. 418812 ID: e3aff6

As long as you are polite you should be fine. I suspect Gallugerrone would be more curious than anything if he found out about your abilities, though it wouldn't hurt to ask whether the dragon has a strong opinion on the study of magic.
>>
No. 424441 ID: 6f7214
File 134022922105.png - (449.61KB , 930x630 , 867.png )
424441

My host informs me that I may go armed as I wish. After all, the city encourages such personal protection, and Gallugerrone could hardly take offense "-as most any weapon short of rockets or harpoon would be all but useless against such a magnificent creature."

On this I decided to wear the pistol openly on my belt, with my dirk sheathed close to the fur under my jacket.
>>
No. 424443 ID: 6f7214
File 134022940009.png - (143.16KB , 460x558 , 868.png )
424443

"You seem quite... anxious?"
"Shouldn't I be? My family takes no dragon as it's own, nor have we ever had any need for their opinions, regardless of the uses they may serve in battle."
"Never?"
"You know I am de Sauterelle, a new house perhaps, but we are not so far removed from the old one. We've been known for... collecting... cataloging arts and secrets that others would see left undisturbed. Those with power and understanding are usually those least desirous to see it shared."
"I'm afraid I don't know Gallugerrone's thoughts on that. We correspond mostly on social and ethical matters. Still, take heart; today it is my words, my loyalties that he shall be scrutinizing. I only hope he is as sympathetic to our kind as I've heard."
>>
No. 424451 ID: 6f7214
File 134023030061.png - (319.55KB , 850x600 , 869.png )
424451

"Our kind, What great need could we have of his sympathy? Gallugerrone has no armies nor land yet does he? What besides his own ire could you risk?"
"I'll admit, when I saw the choices you made, your actions last night I'd hoped that you might understand. What I fear most is not some foe lurking beyond our lands, but the ones within our own hearts. No army can strike at that."
"And what foes could be so terrifying, how shall a dragon help against them?"
"What is it do we do best? What is the purpose of our people?
"We survive.
"We do more than survive. We swarm!”
“…”
”We are the shield against the foes of men, but you are not stupid, tell me now, what shall be when Man has no more foes?"
"No more foes? An unlikely prospect, someone will always wants someone else dead."
"Do not make light of the matter. There will come a day when Man must need to chose between men, and verhimen. Between his own flesh, and a tool. A beloved tool perhaps, but a dangerously obsolete tool. Tell me what choice you would make?"
>>
No. 424453 ID: b85f8c

False choice. There is always another way aside from genocide.
>>
No. 424512 ID: 664f36

What exactly does your host recommend? He fears 'the foe lurking within our own hearts,' but what does that mean exactly? Or is he just worried that the humans will try to get rid of your kind in the far distant future when there are no other threats against humanity? If that's it, he's just being paranoid... there will never be a case where humans have no enemies. Not in this setting. But what did he mean about the dragon needing to scrutinize his loyalties?
>>
No. 424527 ID: e3aff6

Murderous groups do indeed arise and gain control of nations at times, but the conflicts that arise from them can end and have ended without the annihilation of either side. Genocidal ideologies, like any ideology, are neither universal nor irreversible in a population.
>>
No. 424593 ID: a3b384

Say that you see what he means, but not to underestimate the ability of man to divide themselves. And of verhimen as well, perhaps. None could unite so well as to defeat the other. It would fall to separate countries being as they always are, warring and allying and politicing.
>>
No. 424799 ID: 660725
File 134032839542.png - (179.29KB , 570x520 , 870.png )
424799

"There are more than simply two answers to such a problem. Besides, 'Man' is not some singular entity, no more than we are. Conflicts have arisen and ended before without the extinction of one side or the other!"
"Those conflicts that didn't were between men and even this was not from a lack of trying. Still, you are right. They may remain divided, but they need not be unanimously agreed to annihilate us. They called us out of darkness in desperation. Who is to say some have not retained some secret to return us all just as easily?"
"And who are you to say it would be easy? There is still place enough for both of us."
"Yet a woman considers the birth of two at once a wearying burden, while even the most delicate of our ladies wouldn't-"
"Then what you suggesting, we overwhelm them?"
"No. I would never wish it, never, that would be- no- unforgivable. That would deny our purpose.

"And these dangers of the heart?"
We have spent the long wars learning violence and aggression, they; caution and fear. They have plenty reason fear what we show ourselves to be. To survive we would need to prove ourselves as more. Still, even that to is dangerous, all change is dangerous”
”Then what do you want of him?” I sigh exasperatedly.

Someone to confide in, to listen, to care, to make plans long after I am gone. I was hoping…”
>>
No. 424811 ID: 660725
File 134033198373.png - (345.87KB , 846x439 , 871.png )
424811

He trails off as the carriage draws to a stop. I follow him, but I'm still not sure to make of him, his thoughts and suggestions prickle at my ears, the visions of a profoundly depressing mind.

The dragon has made his camp in the garden vale. It seems misplaced, the only sign of it's importance are the symbol of the Dragon Thanes, the Burning Seal. How nonthreatening these tents look compared to the looming fortress walls just in the distance, behind which I feel there must surely be cannon, rocket, or more sinister tools of devastation waiting, some perhaps point at this very spot.

Or perhaps paranoia is personally perpetuated?
>>
No. 424853 ID: 660725
File 134033618765.png - (451.35KB , 1041x731 , 873.png )
424853

We pass by the pair of bored looking guards easily, Mister Peroquette's presence is expected.

His presence is awful and awesome all at once. His claws sheer away at stone as deftly and easily as Grandfather Sealucid would carve a fishing spear of spruce or pine. Pillars with familiar patterns taking under his hands, woven thick with power, protection and warding.

Maidens of many kinds attend to him, arranging various brown paper wrapped packages or lounging in the heat of his presence. The damp and chill of the outside is forgotten here, instead everything is suffused with a warm, golden glow... Gallugerrone, the Golden.

Peroquette kneels, offering papers and packages to him, his hands shaking as he clears his throat addresses it.

Gallugarrone turns, and speaks. His voice does not boom, it rolls, it resonates somewhere inside of my own chest, as if it was always a part of me.

"Ahhhh yeeesss, So good of you to come. Mmmmnn thankyou I will be sure to thoroughly... digest the contents of those, but who is this? Come then tell me your name boy?"

My voice nearly cracks as I open my mouth.
"A-August sir. August de Sauterelle.

"He is a guest of mine and I thought to offer to opportunity to-"

"Yes. Sauterelle, I know. Ask of me what you would. Both of you. Please. The desire to make well overcomes me momentarily.
>>
No. 424858 ID: 660725
File 134033699586.png - (219.99KB , 930x630 , 874.png )
424858

I swallow to clear my throat and find I have to reach too far to grasp a thought that is not serving this great one. I SHOULD ask about... a theif, or... for help... Yes.

I SHOULD ask...

I can feel the heat of that fierce emerald gaze on my neck as I hear Peroket... Pearquit... Per... the other one, chattering away, the Gallugerone nodding or replying in a few choice words of majesty.

I SHOULD demand aid... my master... he needs me. I-

My gaze is drawn downward, to my feet and the carpets below them. Closer now, swaying so. The pressure is not painful, but unrelenting. I struggle to resist under the weight yet cannot find voice to say anything but words I SHOULD...
not whisper.

I fumble at the pommel of my pistol but it yields no comfort... I SHOULD...
>>
No. 424882 ID: 660725
File 134033915032.png - (490.80KB , 930x630 , 875.png )
424882


Intrusion Detected: Host Connection Compromised
>Protect. Cleanse. Defend. Reenforce.

Available Countermeasures Utilize Y-SCION Lens-like Architecture.

DIFFRACT: Incoming power dispersed raw into local environment. Simple, Defensive, Overt, Unpredictable

REFLECT: Incoming power redirected, unaltered in composition. Routine, Retaliatory, Covert, Exploitable.

REFRACT: Incoming power composition may altered and redirected, some intensity lost to environment in transition. Challenging, Elegant, Overt, Unpredictable.

-Please State the Nature of Your Contradiction-

>>
No. 424889 ID: b85f8c

>>424882
REFLECT.

This is a simple suggestion the dragon's using, not an outright hostile attack. Let's not blow our cover over defending against that.
>>
No. 424891 ID: a3b384

>>424889
Seconded. I'd feel better knowing exactly how much or how little we can do with it, but at least we'll have some control this way.
>>
No. 424895 ID: 132b99

refract into power suitable for use by runework and apply to central pillar.
>>
No. 424897 ID: b85f8c

I've been informed we can choose a target for reflection/refraction.

Adding onto >>424882
Considering the power sent is a mental influence trying to get August to serve the dragon, perhaps we can reflect that to the dragon in order to get him to serve AUGUST. REFRACT if necessary. This shouldn't be a particularly difficult change.
>>
No. 424971 ID: e3aff6

Reflect
>>
No. 424975 ID: 4bdd79

>>424897
This.
>>
No. 425003 ID: a3b384

>>424897
The advantage of reflect is that it is not obvious when we do it. If we send it back to the dragon he will notice. And I don't think it would serve our ends well anyway.

But hey if we want to say "this shit won't work on me" in the most forward way possible, by all means let's throw the magic influence back in his face. But I'd rather not. How about one of those girls of his, two of them look asleep and might not much notice the effects. If we can divide the reflection to the both of them, even better.
>>
No. 425177 ID: 664f36

Wouldn't the dragon know we've defeated or countered his mind magics if we don't get down on our knees and grovel, regardless of what option we do? If we can Reflect the 'power' towards something/someone else, would it make that person desire to serve August, or ourselves? I'd suggest using Peroquette as a target to reflect upon in either case. But the point remains that August might need to feign the desire to serve in order to sell the ruse.
>>
No. 426535 ID: e4c8b5
File 134076412377.png - (515.27KB , 930x630 , 876.png )
426535

Commands Internalized and Interpreted
...
[Target]:SET-6 Ascendant Morphotype
...
Package intercepted (87% efficiency)
...
Return to sender

>>
No. 426546 ID: e4c8b5
File 134076488979.png - (474.63KB , 1041x731 , 877.png )
426546

Just as I feel I'm about to collapse the weight and heat is lifted from my shoulders. A cool breeze flutters through the tent flaps stirring a shiver up my spine. I can breath, think clearly.

I open my eyes to find both Mister Peroquette and Gallugarone have stopped speaking and stare in my direction. The dragon seems particularly taken aback.
>>
No. 426554 ID: e4c8b5
File 134076805389.png - (221.08KB , 769x568 , 878.png )
426554

He speaks slowly, an edge of irritation in his rumbling voice.
"Secundus de Sauterelle, à partir... de Merboiullant... August? What do you... want?"

My first instinct is to run, to dash from this tent and make my way across the ground. To hide my eyes away from this hypnotic beast who offers and takes in the same sentence.

Yet, he offered, and I could most certainly make some use of that, couldn't I?
>>
No. 426618 ID: b85f8c

You wish to find someone, do you not? A dragon must have an information network, and locating one criminal should not take much effort. A small boon, not likely to offend overly much, and considering the situation that may be a good idea. Oh, you could also ask him if he knows what your wand does.

On the other hand, your master could use some help... but don't you already have men sent to aid him? I am uncertain on that front.
>>
No. 426692 ID: 4e86cd

You should remember to remain very polite and not to ask for anything beyond information. Gallugerrone already seems to know what happened, and if we are seen as taking advantage of the situation he will be upset sooner or later.
>>
No. 426888 ID: f3ac2a

You've shown that you can hold your own against his magic but forcing a dragon to do things in its moment of weakness is some dangerous mojo.
"I ask that you decide for yourself on what you do and not be influenced by any power of suggestion."
Then give a respectful bow. Showing that although you where brash in reflecting back his powers, you mean no harm.
>>
No. 426890 ID: 132b99

>>426618
>>426692
yes indeed, ask what you came to ask, no more.
>>
No. 427225 ID: 664f36

Considering what the dragon attempted to do, I wouldn't say that it'd be out of the question for there to be some backlash for him. Nothing out of the question, of course, but actions have to have consequences, and when you try to mindfuck someone, you ought to get fucked for trying it. But phrase your words carefully so as to not have it seem like you're fully cognizant of the current conditions. Something like. "What was that you tried to do to me? I came here hoping for a simple gift of information regarding [whatever], but instead you use some kind of... powers on me? You should be using your gifts to help my master [at time, place, etc], not against supplicants who come to you in good faith!"
>>
No. 430463 ID: d8f795
File 134181346280.png - (121.66KB , 627x563 , 879.png )
430463

"I ask that you find for me, Eschrie du Moulont, the Lagoan. He resides hidden within this city and I must capture him before the week is full. I must know all there is to be known of him."
"Do you, have a picture or something?"
"Well, I don't now, but I could-"
"Regardless, trivial. He shall be found. All will be known."
"Also, if I may, no more of... whatever that was. You know what I mean."

"One request. One. Now, leave. Return in two days. Alone.

Gallugarone cuts off any protestation, turns to my companion and gives him a small smirk before bidding he return in a week for a more in-depth discussion.
>>
No. 430562 ID: d8f795
File 134185399960.png - (77.29KB , 519x431 , 880.png )
430562

I note my companion still seems a bit flustered as he wrings his hands and tries to speak in a still quavering voice.
"Hahah, I erhm... yes well, that went better than expected. Still, didn't, expect, well 'I' didn't expect him to be quite so interested in you."
"Yes, I suppose I was correct in that."
"But, I must ask, what was all that about?"
"Can't precisely say myself, it was just a bit confusing."
"Well, I just mean, you know, that bit about needing to capture someone... your buisness I assume?"
"Family affair, perhaps we may talk later in private."
"So be it... oh still.. that was magnificent. I think I may enjoy these meetings I really do."
>>
No. 430569 ID: d8f795
File 134185513533.png - (294.24KB , 930x630 , 881.png )
430569

I arrive back at the Peroquette residence to find my companions have already arrived home. My little brother sniffs at me eagerly while his master watches on with a stern look.

"Ahh, you have returned, find anything useful? My sources tell me we may be able to arrange a meeting as 'prospective customers' for the device and recover both it and our target in one swoop."
"You smell funny, flashpowder and hot copper."
"Dragon I imagine. I have been in a meeting with such a creature in fact. Indeed I have a few 'sources' of my own now, and may soon enough know 'all' there is to be known of our target."
"A dragon, so coooool! Can I meet the dragon, can I?"
"I'm not sure if-"
"Gentlemen, please, avail yourselves of my hospitality in this matter, I still don't exactly what is going on but I assure you my household may be of aid to you."
"Ahh, ez de time for eatink, talkien und talken I tink, and hew may be enjoink dis dinner very vell, as was my idea. Know my vay around de shops, and put in sum words wiff de kitchen gels bout few of mine favorite tings. No rich talk wiffout rich foods dey say.~"
>>
No. 430577 ID: 643515

Larcen has quite the dashing hat there.
...About Larcen, I was reviewing the account of what became of his camp, and it occurs to me that the umbrella man might not have been sent after him by the Sperenzes or any person at all. At some point we should ask him more closely about that campsite, and particularly whether he found any items there.
>>
No. 431086 ID: 664f36

Firmly (re)establish dominance over your group by lording over the fact that all three of them worked together and accomplished less than you did alone, AND you slept in and have bowed a dragon to your wills.
>>
No. 431092 ID: b85f8c

>>431086
I'm not sure that's appropriate.

>>430569
Do inform them to avoid the dragon's presence if possible. I am not sure if it's a good idea or not to tell them that it tried to mentally influence you or that we protected you from it; those could be rather heated topics, especially around your host... but it would also be very useful information for everyone present- Dragons are not visited lightly.

Perhaps I should clarify? It was trying to get you to submit to him and serve him. We reflected its power onto it, causing it to be compelled to grant you a boon.
>>
No. 431093 ID: 132b99

yeah it was a mind effecting spell, so it was caught up by us since we are an artifact linked directly to your mind.
>>
No. 437593 ID: dde999
File 134369183277.png - (210.81KB , 810x516 , 882.png )
437593

I compliment Larcen's most recent transformation in costuming and learn that he spent the day browsing the markets in the company of one our host's wives and handmaidens. Even going so far as to ingratiate himself with the cooking staff to prepare our meal to his order. He works fast, have to give him that.

>>431092
>>431086
Yes, I will try to avoid lording it over the others that 'I' had an audience with a dragon, a dragon who will aid me... after I... we forced him... by resisting his incredibly dangerous powers of persuasion.
>>
No. 437599 ID: dde999
File 134369406314.png - (204.19KB , 930x630 , 883.png )
437599

Sir Weldendon pauses before relating more of his plan, until being assured by Mister Peroquette that his staff are quite loyal to the family, and he's even brought one of his sisters, the head of family security to hear our planning should we require their aid.

However, it seems his plan relies solely on my little brother's ability to precisely aim a concussive gas shell from a nearby building at the thief and company while we bargain for the part he stole, in the open, during broad daylight. Then, grab both thief and his merchandise before they have a chance to react and hightail it out of there before security teams manage to swarm the area.

The Peroquettes point out that while they will help us up to a point, leading a hoard of angry security guards back here is a completely unacceptable outcome. If we follow that plan we must be prepared to need to leave the city as quickly as possible.
>>
No. 437622 ID: dde999
File 134370194117.png - (279.67KB , 930x630 , 884.png )
437622

He protests that he has great faith in my brother's marksmanship, to Kurtail's slight embarrassment, and ensures us that all precautions taken, the kerfuffle will be kept to a minimum. He also points out that if this thief is at all experienced he knows to keep his goods stashed away until he is ready to unload them, this would be our best chance to recover the device.

I fear Kurtail's embarrassment this night doesn't end there as we are both being paid rather more attention by the ladies here than used to at home. A serving girl even gives his budding mane a friendly tousling when he tries to hid embarrassment in the bottom of a drink, while she flashes me a glimpse of some of her softer parts through a subtly unbuttoned section of her blouse.
>>
No. 437636 ID: dde999
File 134370442540.png - (191.59KB , 678x630 , 885.png )
437636

I even doubt if Peroquette's sister would actually bother wearing such an attention grabbing outfit if she were simply here to listen to our plans.

Don't think she was particularly enthused with Larcen's port broiled potatoes in cheese though, perhaps a bit too common for her tastes?
>>
No. 437662 ID: dde999
File 134371019803.png - (171.48KB , 690x607 , 886.png )
437662

Upon returning to our room I manage to separate and speak with Larcen.
>>430577
"So, why the gettup?"
"Oh, hew know, ez gud for surruptishnuss."
"Surreptitiousness?"

"Mmmm, vhas tinking, mehbe I take hew out some interesting places no? Mehbe we find dis fellow, he ez, how you say, having tastes on womens, mehbe vhe find him while ez distracted as vhon is likely to be en such places?"
"You're talking about the Pompey District arn't you?"
"Mehbe? Besiiiides, vhe said ver goink to have a night on de down sometime together yes?"
"I... don't remember?"
"Hew know vhen vhe meet at Sperenze?
"Maybe, I've been a bit busy not dying recently though so it's not as... ahh yes, that reminds me what I wanted to ask you, about your campsite... some more specifics, I have some new suspicions about what may have happened."
"How you mean, specifics?"
”Did you find anything there, any artifacts, anything, you know, strange?”
”Vhell, not xactly, vhas pretty clean, but de monument vhast dere und vhe used it for basis of camp, hew know, for making de tents and such. Why, vhat hew tink happened now?”
>>
No. 437710 ID: b0abc8

Sounds like he hasn't heard about what happened to his camp, or thinks you haven't.
First tell him about how the corpse-thing was looking for him (and called itself Brocade if that means anything to him), and then tell him what you heard about the fate of his companions. Hopefully this should have enough impact to get him to tell about anything he 'forgot to mention', and his reaction or lack there of should be informative.
>>
No. 437909 ID: e80908

I'm pretty sure that Larcen was the one to tell us about what happened at his camp in the first place, but frankly he seems too uneducated to be of much help elaborating on the importance of the monolith or what happened. The name Brocade wasn't mentioned to him, though, so that might ring a bell. But it's unclear if his activities in Sperenze and his pursuit by the thing he helped kill had anything to do with the monolith or what happened at his camp.

Anyway, going out covertly and looking for your target might be a worthwhile tactic, and Larcen totally wouldn't seem at all out of place. But you might be, and there's no hope of bringing your little brother along. Maybe Sir Weldendon might agree to go. But yes, he wouldn't bring his stolen merchandise with him, so you'd have to tail him back to where he's staying. IF you find him.
>>
No. 439505 ID: 413dba
File 134416932488.png - (129.19KB , 599x515 , 887.png )
439505

>>437710
He was there to help dispatch Brocade, told me he was some sort of creepy castrato killer, hell he was the one who first informed me he’d found his camp ripped apart.

>>437909
"I... *sigh* dammit, for a moment I thought I had something, it just doesn't seem like everything there is adding up."
"Vhat you tink de Sprenzi gurl vhas telling de truth?"
"Sperenze, and she's a priestess in addition to being a... noble, however illegitimate her lineage. She doesn't strike me as a slaughterer. She said she found your camp like that and I believe her, Marians don't do death."
"Mmmmmmm~"
>>
No. 439506 ID: 413dba
File 134416943212.png - (151.49KB , 599x515 , 888.png )
439506

"So, vhat, be explaining to me deze women in hewr life, how hew balancing on one finger dis delicate liddle snowflake, en another an ember?"
"Really?"
"Ohh, vhas just vhondering, how, ifen hew are en vhat one might say 'de player's league,' hew might being played yourself?"
...
"What you think I'm playing a game with these ladies?"
"To be honest, never really expected hew to be dat good at dis sorta ting, mahbeh too trusting, but… if hew can keep my stride… Anyting hew need done before we head out den, hmm? Surely not protesting en dat lovely liddle vhite gurl’s name, not vhile talking en such tones of de firey red?"
”What about bringing along Weldendon, just in case we find him and-?”
”No, ez hew, und I, he may be in for a liddle ruckus wiff his plan, but he ez… stiff… no spring, no sly, no eye.”

I don’t really want to be seen around the redlight district. I mean, I’ve already gotten enough grief after ‘someone’ told Lucidia I ‘slept’ with Joleane… of course, I could always just leave you here.
>>
No. 439599 ID: e3aff6

I am rather uneasy about just you and Larcen heading out to track a criminal who is likely among associated by now.
>>
No. 443055 ID: af7a99
File 134497433825.png - (166.40KB , 599x515 , 889.png )
443055

>>439599
"Sounds more than a bit dangerous, by now he likely among associates and an unprepared strike could spook him into hiding at best,and at worse end in both our deaths."
"Oh August, I am disappoint at dese incofidences, ez not zho concerning to me but iffing hew feel it ez so, I vhill not press de matter."
>>
No. 443069 ID: af7a99
File 134497488411.png - (163.26KB , 689x560 , 890.png )
443069

"Wait, you're still leaving?"
"Mais bien-sûr! Ez vhat vhe vhanted to do, and vhe do not work for hew, no?"
"Well, no..."
"Ahh vhell den is settled, see hew... vhenever vhe wake up. Ez certain vhill be softer bed den dat table."

With that Larcen jauntily adjusts his hat and strides from the room.
>>
No. 443071 ID: af7a99
File 134497496879.gif - (382.28KB , 561x569 , 891.gif )
443071

*sigh*
>>
No. 443081 ID: af7a99
File 134497539998.png - (204.87KB , 919x538 , 892.png )
443081

I slump back into the bed and let my unfocused thoughts to drift despondently while I stare at the guttering candle for a bit. As wealthy as the Peroquettes seem to be, they must not have wired the guest quarters for electric.

"With that I should be headed to sleep for the night shouldn't I? Unless you'd prefer to practice some magic while we have the room to ourselves... funny... nobody seems to notice you anyhow... nobody ever asks... you know... I don't think he took... his sword..."
>>
No. 443108 ID: b6edd6

I guess it is a bit late to chase him down now. He's slippery enough he will probably be alright.

Anyway, There is this magical thing I wanted you to try at some point. I was thinking about how runes are really useful but are vulnerable to detection and manipulation when completed. We should try out a few experiments with a simple rune, with things such as storing a rune in an almost-complete form or split between two pieces of wood that can be later be joined like a puzzle.
>>
No. 443615 ID: e80908

I doubt Larcen REALLY intends to do anything relevant to your family's mission here. He's more of a tag-along than an invested member of this quest. He seems like he'll be able to handle himself, but it might've been prudent of you to accept his invitation and broaden your horizons a bit. Or at least, that's my thought about it. When it comes to magical practice, I don't really have anything to add, but since you're not doing anything else tonight, you might as well hone your abilities.
>>
No. 453420 ID: ea06f9
File 134732457197.png - (206.83KB , 797x578 , 893.png )
453420

>>443108
Okay, I have that blank board you told me to pack, so I'll go with my only offensive option.

Thor's Thunderous Thingamabob, to which I was never quite certain if Sirius was being quite erh... serious when he taught me the name and structure. I mean, it doesn't even look particularly Nordic now does it?
>>
No. 453440 ID: ea06f9
File 134732640476.png - (121.82KB , 748x501 , 894.png )
453440

There, I've been a much better at actually casting this one on command since you fell into my life. I'll still need to cut it though, break it down, make it concealable, more portable too.


I need... something sharp, and heavy.
>>
No. 453449 ID: ea06f9
File 134732747856.png - (103.79KB , 556x415 , 895.png )
453449

Larcen's blade descends with a weighty chop. No elegant rapier or sabre of the sort associated with such stylish criminals, yet the blade is very sharp, and the cut clean.

Clean as one could ask for without a saw anyhow.
>>
No. 453450 ID: ea06f9
File 134732779215.png - (134.54KB , 930x630 , 896.png )
453450

There, I can't make it much easier. No additions, no enhancements, nothing fancy; simple vertical bisection.
>>
No. 453455 ID: ea06f9
File 134732873934.png - (289.97KB , 930x630 , 897.png )
453455

My effort feels, rebuffed. I try to open up again, only to feel it rebound yet again.

I take a deep, cleansing breath and try to force it through.

...

"Oh come ooon!"
>>
No. 453464 ID: ea06f9
File 134733176893.png - (275.27KB , 930x998 , 898.png )
453464

Recovering ourselves and repeating the attempt a few more times yields the same result. Nothing.

I fish out a pencil and collect some paper to recalculate a solution; only my small notebook of common aether equations and the tangentially related text on primaeval curvilinear text to aid my analysis.

We fail to even take note Knight Weldendon's entrance until he speaks.

"Mathematics I take it?"
"Mhmm?"
"Your work? Mathematics?"
"Something like that, yes."
"Ah, I, didn't know you took such an interest."
...

I can feel him standing patiently behind me for a long moment before he clears his throat again.
>>
No. 453478 ID: ea06f9
File 134733506455.png - (293.34KB , 930x998 , 900.png )
453478

"Sir, must apologize; for my negligence and... lack of faith in your ability this morning, sir."

"... go on."

"To be honest sir, I can't say I would have chosen you to lead this operation."

...

"You've only basic military training and are obviously more, academically minded than most your peers. When you refused to even defend your own nobility against some street urchin I felt that... well sir, I felt it may be best to take matters into my own hands. Such cowardice couldn't be allowed to set example-"

"You cut me out."

"Yessir, and I see now I was mistaken to do so. Your confrontation with a dragon shows you willing to take great risks to do what must be done, you don't... waste time on lesser matters, you take complaints right to the top, as befitting your station. I apologize for misjudging you.

And, how am I to respond to this? That I am seen as so... so... ancillary to this entire affair that I could be disregarded as just a 'bad influence' on my own brother. I should be angry, wrathful even; but it is only the gnawingly empty cold of paranoia proven true.
>>
No. 453494 ID: f2c20c

>>453478
React as he would expect someone of your station to. We made an error before when advising you due to lacking knowledge of how your culture works. I aim not to make that mistake again.

Since we have some downtime ahead of us... do you have that wand of unknown use still, once you're free? Perhaps we could try to figure out what it does?

I think the broken board doesn't work because the split in the board is considered to be part of the symbol. It would have to be a perfect seam for the split symbol thing to work, methinks.
>>
No. 453502 ID: b6edd6

Hm, a bit disappointing about the board but not surprising, and it is still good to know beforehand what cannot be inscribed with functional runes. The in-line seams are still worth testing (if we have the tools to make precise enough cuts), as are runes stored almost-complete, but remember not to stay up too late meddling with magic.

When we test the wand, we should try observing it with Voors before and during channeling.
>>
No. 453507 ID: f2c20c

>>453502
I think we should severely limit our use of Voors. It seemed to affect August's mental health negatively.
>>
No. 453564 ID: f2c20c

>>453494
Actually, let me take some of that back. I'm being wishy-washy. I advised you back down before because it would have potentially jeopardized the mission. I didn't know that it jeopardized your leadership, which in turn jeopardized the mission. I still wish for you to consider the mission to be more important than your own personal glory. I don't know if speaking of this conviction is going to help your leadership position at all. Frankly the way leadership works for Vehrimen feels primitive and awkward to me.

Whatever the case, build upon his assumptions, whether or not they are true, as they garner you respect, but try to build upon it with things that ARE true, and don't weaken your position.

I wonder if admitting that you suspected they were cutting you out would be admitting weakness, or strength? It could be seen as weakness that you didn't act on your suspicion, or strength that you were apparently insightful enough to suspect it. I don't know- is it only important for you to stand up to direct challenges?
>>
No. 453792 ID: e80908

I don't see what the problem is. He made a mistake earlier by keeping you out of the loop and letting you sleep in, but he acknowledged the mistake and apologize. I doubt there's any need to rub it in further, let alone punish him. Depending on your feelings about him as perhaps a potential political ally (and I really don't know what kind of clout he may or may not have) you could discuss with him how your difference from the rest of your race, in terms of thinking style and talents, is exactly what makes you stand out and gives you the sort of outside perspective that could make for an excellent progressive leader. Not that you want to take away your big brother's 'throne.'
>>
No. 455677 ID: d56a41
File 134792233176.png - (308.35KB , 930x998 , 901.png )
455677

>mission to be more important than your own personal glory.

"I would have enjoyed it you know."
"Sir?"
"To fight him, beat him. I am not incapable. Some part of me very much wanted to... but our mission is more important than assuaging my own sense of importance or honor, to risk breaking cover for a petty thief."
"Yessir, I recognize that now.
"I cannot deny my lack of experience in these affairs. However, due to my family's... research... our projects, I may possess certain, perspectives on problems otherwise impossible to bypass through probable ponderence. Please remember this in the future.
"You really think 'perspective' is enough to lead? Think soldiers will trust what only YOU can see when they're looking for somethen’ to rely on?
>>
No. 455689 ID: d56a41
File 134792471033.png - (120.95KB , 654x485 , 902.png )
455689

"I do not honestly care if you respect my abilities Sir Weldendon, but my father did not set me upon this task because he thinks I can use experience I don't have now did he?

He must have judged you the best to train my little brother. If 'I' am the best at anything, it is learning."


He looks down at me with some concern, before taking my hand and giving it a firm shake.

"I'll make no promises, but we'll see what we can do."
>>
No. 455715 ID: d56a41
File 134792833119.png - (271.08KB , 930x643 , 903.png )
455715

He and my brother finally bed down for the night whilst I burn through both wax and charcoal in the all too literal 'witching hours.' My accompaniment becomes the patter of the rain on the concrete outside, the scratching of pencil on paper, the fluttering breath of the candle, and the distant music of a radio.

>split in the board = part of the symbol.
>a perfect seam
Should work? Would need a machine shop though, a lathe... or a band saw?

>Test the wand
>Use Voors
>Do not use Voors
Mmmmm not tonight, still have little to do tomorrow, feel we might really getting somewhere with this... maybe.

>in-line seams
Wait... supposing we accounted for a three dimensional... though that could be a real pain to fashi-
Ooh, we could stack a pattern! Might catch fire though... Doesn't matter though, utterly disposable. Yes, that should work, but it has to be marked, blood perhaps? Oh, wait... waaaaait.. if I differentiated the pattern? Didn't do that before!

>remember not to stay up too late meddling with magic.

"Ah... ahaahhhhuhhhhyeeah... bit late... for that."
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