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File 137549007868.png - (21.18KB , 900x900 , 000-titleone.png )
530834 No. 530834 ID: 2964de

In the East was a great Empire that enjoyed long-lasting peace. It was to be broken not by war nor uprising, but by the arrival of a being of great evil to wreak havoc on the lands.
502 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
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No. 926291 ID: 91ee5f

>>926269
Let’s make a deal with him. He points us to the guys he owes a debt to and we’ll get rid of them, which will be good for us, since those guys sound like they should have tastier souls!

However, if he wants you to go kill these guys, he’s got to pay you with whatever magical stuff he’s got laying around!

.....hey, speaking of magical stuff, where’s that magic staff you got from that priest earlier?
>>
No. 926312 ID: 977456

See how desperate they are, and how much blackmail material you can get on them. They might be a good chance to recruit a daywalker.
>>
No. 926323 ID: e20bdf

Something is odd here. The dude is sleeping fully armored in a guarded room because of debts, immediately accept death, and after that his soul isn't great. Either he lost his fortune (assuming the soul value of rich people is always directly correlated to their money), wasted his inheritance or is got this situation by being partially successful in a "get rich quick" scheme.
Since his soul isn't particularly valuable, and all the fortune this place had is probable gone, why not fuck with him for the fun of it. Make it seem you have a purpose for him, give him hope, but keep it simple.
"You're funny. I thing I will keep." Or something less stupid...
>>
No. 926343 ID: 094652

He's not afraid yet. Make him afraid.

Explain that his fate is one of fire and futility - there is no heaven for him if he surrenders here and now. Just a morsel for your power.

And you will show the trust in your voice by sparing his life. You are a selfish monster, but you are not pure evil. You are capable of reason, negotiation... (use gnoll disguise) and more.

Offer no deal, leave him in peace, and let him stew for a few weeks. When he finally snaps from the existential crisis, let HIM make the offer. Let him beg you to negotiate in your favor.
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No. 926345 ID: 688dd6
File 155301602483.png - (23.27KB , 700x800 , 115-glare.png )
926345

>can you get people to sell their soul to you or no?
Ummmm, for what? The only thing I can offer them in return is death and oblivion. To take their soul, I have to kill them and absorb it, and when I do -- that's it. That person is no more. They don't even get to be stardust.

>.....hey, speaking of magical stuff, where’s that magic staff you got from that priest earlier?
I left it in the hallway before I attacked the guard, since you guys told me to rush him and devour his soul. It's kind of a pain in the ass to haul around. I keep getting stuck in doorways. Dunno how that old monk dude dealt with it.

>"You're funny. I thing I will keep."
What do I look like, a caveman?

>use gnoll disguise
Look, I'll admit that much of the mortal mind is a mystery to me, but again, I'm pretty sure it sends the wrong message to show up at his bedside as a naked stranger.

>Yeah, interrogate him. Maybe you can get him to tell you a better target? Let him think you're working for him and he won't out you to the church.
>Just get him to point you towards where they are as they sound like people who have taster souls anyways and see if you can't get him into your debt.
>Might as well take the opportunity and bargain.
>Let’s make a deal with him. He points us to the guys he owes a debt to and we’ll get rid of them, which will be good for us, since those guys sound like they should have tastier souls!
>Make it seem you have a purpose for him, give him hope, but keep it simple.
Hrmm. Okay. It's a goal, at least, more direction than I've had since I got here.

"Listen. Friend. I have no idea what you're talking about. Whoever you're indebted to, I don't know them. But..."

"Wh--"
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No. 926346 ID: 688dd6
File 155301603570.png - (13.98KB , 700x800 , 116-cajole.png )
926346

"Maybe we can help each other? Hmmm? You sound like a man with problems. I'm a skilled problem solver. Why don't I help you out, and you can owe me a favor?"

"I... ennnhhhh... I guess I can't really drag my family name through the mud any more than I already have, so why not consort with demons? I don't have much left to lose."

"Thatta boy. Tell me what's bothering you."
>>
No. 926347 ID: 688dd6
File 155301604885.png - (42.54KB , 700x800 , 117-niklaus.png )
926347

"Fine. My name is Niklaus Irontail, the last of the Irontail clan and heir to the former Irontail fortune. My family once owned quite a stake in this town. In fact, we were one of the most influential ratfolk clans on the island, and my ancestors were some of the Emperor's most trusted warriors.

"Unfortunately, time has not been kind to our family tree, and by the time I was born, all that remained were my grandfather, my father, my mother, and I. Suffice it to say, I... was not the son they had been hoping for. I drank, I gambled, I fraternized. I learned nothing from my elders, and remained incorrigible until my father died and left the estate to me... presumably because he couldn't bear the thought of donating it to charity.

"Left to my own devices, I, through unfortunate circumstances, accrued a large amount of debt with some of the most unsavory characters in this town, and they have spent the last few years bleeding me dry of every penny in the Irontail coffers. I've sold almost everything of value on the property to try to appease them, but still they hound me, and now that I have no more money to give them... they have grown brazen in their threats. I can't afford to pay any guards more than a pittance, so only the ones most loyal to my family's name remain. As you can see, I sleep with one eye open, in constant fear that they'll make good on their threats and come to wring the last few drops from my humbled inheritance, over my dead body."
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No. 926348 ID: 688dd6
File 155301605601.png - (17.49KB , 700x800 , 118-plotting.png )
926348

"So, demon, what can you do for me, and what will it cost me? I assume material treasures hold no value to you, which is just as well, since I can't offer them. If you champion me and strike down my tormentors, crueler ones will spring up in their place, as they do in all seedy underbellies. Plus, they're men of esteem, and their deaths will raise questions. The ones who seek out the answers will not, I think, be people you want to meet."

Hmmmmmmm. Hmmmmm. This sounds like a big commitment. Even worse, it sounds like a problem I can't just claw my way through. But, still... this could be the opportunity I've been looking for. A mortal contact, check. Access to a criminal underbelly, that's probably willing to sell things to demons, check. A big home full of basic commodities and a reliable place to sleep during the day, check. And all I have to do is bail this Irontail schmuck out of his gambling debts? That's worth sparing one mediocre soul for if you ask me.

Still, I need to be prepared. He seems to know his stuff, probably his fancy rich family gave him a decent education. What should I ask him? About where I am? Who I'm up against? This is the first mortal I've spoken to so far who hasn't tried to banish me or just screamed in terror until I killed them.
>>
No. 926349 ID: b8d5aa

what to do with this nicholas irontail? he is obviously more useful to us alive than dead, but we have to weigh the benefits against the cost. how large a town is it, really? are we avaricious enough to help him take it over and thereby increase our power and influence, or are we more interested in just finding more souls to devour? and can we trust him not to try to kill us after we've taken care of some of his problems?

taking care of his problems would be fun in and of itself. but here's the offer: you take care of these creditors, and he takes care of you. and when he becomes a respected, wealthy noblerat again, he helps rope in some prime, juicy souls for you to devour. plus, you'll need some magic stuff, probably. that's always nice.
>>
No. 926357 ID: a9af05

>>926349
Do this.
>>
No. 926359 ID: b1b4f3

>>926348
>deaths will raise questions
Alright, all we need to do is frame someone else for the murders. Good thing you can shapeshift.
>>
No. 926360 ID: e20bdf

We could start solving his problem by eliminating tho worst threats. We will want to be thorough in the killing and we need to loot their valuables for our impoverished patron. Therefor we require ether Niklaus himself and/or his most trusted guard to accompany us in this endeavor, point our target an help carry their stuff afterward.

As for what you want:
-Secure. "I protect you you protect me" kind of deal.
-A room far from everyone to sleep and keep your stuff. An isolated wing or the basement would be good.
-For future projects to be pay in magical items or souls.

Let's also consider the problem of trust. As are relation with this man is he may betray us in the first opportunity for being a demon or betray us as soon as we deal with his problem. His opinion of us will also worsen when he find out about the guard we killed since apparently he was one of most loyal to his family.
Of course you will gain his trust as you prove yourself useful, but for a more immediately solution... Can you fuck him? We could add this to the demands:
-Share a bad with you every night.
If he doesn't like your demon form you can shapeshift to his liking. Wolf girl or rat boy?
>>
No. 926366 ID: 977456

He is kind of useless as-is. Better to train him in self-control and strategic thinking. Start subtle, he must have a map of the city somewhere, even if it is outdated, get a rough biography and holdings of the major player, guess who can be turned against who and how to confirm your guesses, deduce how your own agents can be in just the right place at the right time to gain resources and reputation while the city's established powers tear one another apart. Keep the plans vague for now, there'll be scouting and interrogation to do before committing to a plan and its backups and its preparations for improvisation. So long as he is following along and contributing in small ways he should be beginning to understand how consequences work and that continuing to be an idiot will get him killed. Keep it up and byt the time he is running the town, he will be competent enough to leave to his own devices to build up power and resources for you to turn up later with extensive evidence of his demonic dealings...
>>
No. 926371 ID: ad51b8

hmm, I say go for it. I mean this guy doesn't have anything we really want that we probably couldn't find just wondering the street and we didn't really have any direction before so this could be nice. Just have to be careful that old irontail here doesn't betray you. If he does though it will probably be after you pull his ass out of the fire so maybe his soul would have gotten tastier by then as well.

So long story short, I say go for it but watch your back. This guy sounds desperate and desperate people can do unpredictable things. Also after we're done talking to this guy we should probably clean up the guard body outside the door... if only to avoid some awkward questions with our new buddy here.
>>
No. 926401 ID: 688dd6
File 155305250026.png - (10.87KB , 700x800 , 119-berate.png )
926401

Okay, wow, congratulations on not giving me a single question to ask him, any of you. Typical!

>how large a town is it, really?
Medium-sized. I've been around it a few times:
>>570364
>>796213
It's got a short wall, mostly to ward off magical miscreants, and a market district where most of the population is. Most of the town is at the bottom of the hill, and then up the side of the hill is a bunch of manors like this one. I know the town is called Kelorus, 'cause that's what the bartender called it.

>are we avaricious enough to help him take it over and thereby increase our power and influence
Um, maybe. I still don't think I could take it over by myself, but having a support network of mortals that I can gain access to magic and power through would make that significantly easier.

>are we more interested in just finding more souls to devour?
That's the primary method through which I become stronger, so... both? I don't have to kill everyone I meet, and it'll save me a lot of time if I target the juicier souls rather than gorging myself on commoners, but taking souls is a fundamental part of my nature. If I'm not doing that, I'm just spinning my wheels. However, I'm interested in a lot more than just taking souls. I want to be feared, not specifically by this guy, but by everyone, and you can't fear me when you're dead, or whisper my name to others. I want to rule, deciding the lives of thousands from on high. I want a playground where I can do anything I want, and no one can stop me.

What am I really interested in? I'm interested in taking this whole damn Empire over, and subjugating everyone in it. That's a long-term goal, though. I'm a long way from that. I'm working my way up. This little quest sounds like a promising start.

>can we trust him not to try to kill us after we've taken care of some of his problems?
Can he trust me not to do the same?

>Of course you will gain his trust as you prove yourself useful, but for a more immediately solution... Can you fuck him?
>If he doesn't like your demon form you can shapeshift to his liking. Wolf girl or rat boy?
Excuse me? Can I what now? Do I look like some common harlot, trading pleasure for shelter? Maybe you've mistaken me for a succubus, you blithering dolt? I cannot believe you are sincerely advocating that I lay with the first mortal I ally with to "gain his trust." Where do I even start?

First of all, I'm not equipped for biological reproduction, obviously, so it's not possible for me to experience sexual pleasure. There's nothing innately enjoyable about it. That also means that I don't experience attraction like humans do. I've lain with humans before, yes, but only because I thought it would be fun, or in some cases because it would be funny. Otherwise it's a totally one-sided experience, and I'd much rather be ripping their throats out. That innately feels good.

Secondly, no, you simpering fool, I can't shapeshift. Impersonate is an illusion which allows me to take the form of people I've killed. I don't actually have any flesh when I do it, and as I've said before >>781659, if anyone were to touch me, they would know my true nature immediately. It's purely visual. Plus, I like the way I look, and I'd much rather make them look me in the teeth than put on some weird show for them.

Third, I've killed a lot more people than just those two adventurers. I can Impersonate dozens of villagers and townsfolk. And furthermore, the woman was a gnoll, and the man was mousefolk. So you got both of them wrong, idiot. Gods above and below!

All right, fine, since none of you care to ask him about anything I can't already tell you, I'll just lay down my demands.
>>
No. 926402 ID: 688dd6
File 155305252014.png - (23.00KB , 700x800 , 120-bargain.png )
926402

>you take care of these creditors, and he takes care of you. and when he becomes a respected, wealthy noblerat again, he helps rope in some prime, juicy souls for you to devour. plus, you'll need some magic stuff, probably. that's always nice.
>Secure. "I protect you you protect me" kind of deal. A room far from everyone to sleep and keep your stuff. An isolated wing or the basement would be good. For future projects to be pay in magical items or souls.
"I want a place to stay in your manor. Somewhere I can lock, into which sunlight has absolutely no path of entry."

"All right, I can give you one of the spare bedrooms up here and draw the curtains--" he starts.

"No! Fool," I interrupt him. "No windows, not even covered. No grates. Somewhere that has never even seen the light of day, and never will."

"...Fine. We can probably clear some space in the cellar for you. Will that do?"

"Yes. And if I solve this problem for you, you'll owe me some big favors. And in the future, I want magic items as part of my pay." Let's not get hasty and rule currency out entirely. Money can be exchanged for goods and services.

He sighs. "Owe my life to a demon? What could go wrong? Well, it's not much of a life anymore anyway. Very well, it's a deal, errr..."

"Dionaea," I say.

"It's a deal, Dionaea. Now, what are you going to do for me?"
>>
No. 926403 ID: 688dd6
File 155305253465.png - (27.06KB , 700x800 , 121-backlash.png )
926403

>We could start solving his problem by eliminating tho worst threats.
>Alright, all we need to do is frame someone else for the murders.
"Great. I'll get started on killing all those people bothering you as soon as I can. Don't worry, they'll be out of your hair soon."

"No! Have you listened to a word I've said?" he seethes.

"I-"

"If you kill them, you'll only open seats of power for even worse scum! And they'll still expect me to pay up! And they'll come looking for who offed such influential people!"

"That's fine, I'll just frame someone and draw the suspicion away."

"Dionaea! Listen to me! I told you my ancestors were warriors of the Empire. Some of them fought to unite it. Most of them fought to protect it. So I know well what kind of bloodhounds they'll send to sniff out such high-profile murders. They'll know, and they'll find you, wherever you hide, and make short work of you. And then we'll both be dead."
>>
No. 926404 ID: 688dd6
File 155305254449.png - (30.62KB , 700x800 , 122-sullen.png )
926404

He sighs and settles back into his seat. "Murders won't solve this. I need tact. I need clever plans. I need you to make them forget or forgive the debts, of their own volition. I don't know... maybe you could get in good with them, get them to listen to you when you say I'm not worth their time? Just... don't link yourself to me. I don't need that kind of stain on my reputation."

The ratling shifts in his chair before he continues. "The person I was as a boy, that's not who I am as a man. I'm no longer rash, compulsive, hedonistic. I've ruined my family's legacy, and that's a fact, but there's still plenty of people who live in this manor. Servants, mostly. They were born here. As long as they have a roof over their head and food in the pantry, I haven't completely ruined their lives yet. If I die, and my estate is repossessed, who knows what will happen to them?

"I need you to see that that doesn't happen. Fix this for me, and I can start rebuilding, maybe even try for an heir to reignite the ashes of my family line. Save me from this mess I've made for myself, give me a second chance, and I'll do whatever you want. The Irontail blade will be at your command."

Sheesh. He's pretty testy. Listen, I'll say it again, this guy is potentially useful to me, but his loyalty isn't all I get out of this arrangement. Whoever he's indebted to clearly runs the criminal underworld in this town, and that kind of black market is the only place that a demon like me will be able to get all the things I might need. You want artifacts that can bring me back to life? The only sculptors and blacksmiths that will make them are in the black market. You want magic items? The only antiquarians who might peddle them to unholy night-creatures are in the black market. Want to start a cult? I bet you could make recruitment a lot easier with the kind of guidance and information you'd find in the black market! His connections are just as valuable as his assistance.

So, what do I say?
>>
No. 926408 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm... okay, different strategy. What if we take on his debts? Except not actually taking on his debts, it'd be more like you're using the criminals as a bounty hunting office. Hmm, although... his suggested approach could work too. You could go introduce yourself and offer to work as a debt collector, then when they inevitably send you here, return and say he's cleaned out. Though I guess you could take his suit of armor as his final payment? He won't need it anymore, probably, and it's got to be valuable.

Ask him where the criminals are, and who they are. What's the safest way to approach them?
>>
No. 926409 ID: 977456

Help him rule the town, while supporting your future endeavours, whatever they might be. If he ever betrays you, those hunters he fears will discover many reasons to tear his household apart hunting for demonic corruption. If you prosper... you like civilisation, its fun and productive. Your not the sort to tear the place apart, you have vested interest in keeping healthy workers in the fields. At its worst, he would only be betraying his nation's rulers, not its populace.

Ask him for biographies on his enemies and the town. Study, watch, and where necessary bribe and kidnap until you know all you need in order to steer these people against one another. Steer them into a war and let them take the blame for destroying one another. Meanwhile, watch it all closely. Your own forces in place steal what will not be noticed, guard the seemingly small and insignificant peoples who will be overlooked by most, but will feed your popularity when such is tested. Gather evidence against all you can, so that when the survivors emerge, you will have official leave to set your newly swollen militia to their elimination and spread your own influence into the resulting void.

And a secret war is a prime opportunity to feast...
>>
No. 926413 ID: 91ee5f

>>926402
>No sunlight!
Speaking of which, if you become strong enough, would you be able to freely move around during the day? Being able to do that would help in case of an emergency.

Or just being able to be in a room lit with candles would help, next time we need to go into the bar again or some other place like that.

>>926403
>No killing!
Ok, ok! Sheesh! How about blackmail? If we give him something good enough to use against the guys he’s in debt to, that’ll get them to back off, right?

>>926404
Ask him the names and locations of the people he owes debts to.

Any rumors around town that could lead us to something interesting?
>>
No. 926428 ID: 4d09e0

>Okay, wow, congratulations on not giving me a single question to ask him, any of you. Typical!
It’s why you love us.

But if you want some questions here’s some better late then never.

Who exactly does he owe his debt to? At first it sounded like he just own some money to some local thugs but now it almost sounds like he stole from the emperor himself.
Also how much debt does he owe.

As for his suggestions. Ask don’t you think it would be a bit suspicious for you to start doing little odd jobs for them and then ask out of the goodness of your heart for them to leave someone who you supposedly never met alone and for them to drop the debt? Honestly if he wants you to work off his debt he’s going to have to be connected to you in some way, even if that way is through a friend of a friend by him calling in a favor.

Granted don’t really care how he gets us in as long as he can get us in to start getting our own connections. Though his quip about a heir interest me as I’m wondering how viable it would be to help him gain a heir then find a way to make the child completely loyal to you. I mean hopefully you’d have a cult by then but still having a few back ups isn’t the worst idea. Again though that would be something for future us to worry about.
>>
No. 926457 ID: 094652

Explain to your new acquaintance that you're here, terrorizing the innocent and slaughtering adventurers, because your antics increase your power. You do not intend to cease your ambitions to become an archdemoness just for a cot and three meals. But the promise of magic items will keep you sated at the moment, and you need to fight strong opponents; killing the poor feels like eating celery.

That said, you think you can take a break from your rampage - if you're allowed to practice the magic you've recently learned without fear of being caught off-guard by enemies.

Might need to dig up a few corpses.
>>
No. 926473 ID: 101c3c

Alright, let's agree to his demands for now and ask for specific info about these people he's indebted to. Who are they, what do they do, where do they live. Maybe he's got some idea of how to bring them down or get them off his case in a more natural way, whether that's blackmail, an offer to cooperate with their misdeeds, or just giving the right person a frightening demonic encounter. Maybe even find a weak link to stalk and impersonate, using their influence to mess with someone more powerful.

Speaking of that, the chair he's sitting on looks mighty expensive. The armor and sword he's keeping for protection, but you'd think he would've sold that, no? Let's ask about that too. We did detect strong magic in this place, and haven't seen anything that would radiate it yet.
>>
No. 926480 ID: 744ec0

>>926473
yeah

would blackmailing them work?
>>
No. 926481 ID: f2320a

>>926473
Support we need that info before we can even think about making a plan
>>
No. 926486 ID: 7ec08e

Sounds like we’re going to be robbing some fools alongside killing them for a bit.
First question for our ‘friend’ here: Any up-and comers packing in friends amongst the nobility he knows about? Like, someone who’d have some serious cash without having ancient legacies and contacts like he does, or good friends. Alternatively, we MIGHT get to get away with robbing a bigger name, assuming we don’t do the gauche thing of robbing the guys we owe a debt to.
>>
No. 926557 ID: cbdfa8

>>926404

happens to be I have extensive knowledge in starting cults.

>>926480
yes and no.
it depends with some people
>>
No. 926588 ID: 2202fb

>>926557
aww yiss, we got the dude that turned a strain of christianity into a sex-cult!
>>
No. 926662 ID: 688dd6
File 155318874986.png - (26.61KB , 700x800 , 123-scoff.png )
926662

>Speaking of which, if you become strong enough, would you be able to freely move around during the day? Being able to do that would help in case of an emergency.
No, probably not. A tiger can't change its stripes. I'll never be able to just ignore the sun in this form. I'm a shadow demon.

That said, I could move around in it, as long as I had a source of shade to stay under. It wouldn't be comfortable, but I could do it in an emergency.

>Or just being able to be in a room lit with candles would help
I am able to do that! I did it already!! It just didn't feel very good!

>killing the poor feels like eating celery.
Actually, no! I can't taste human food, but my inquiries suggest that the most analogous to what eating common souls is like is, in fact, white bread. Bland, a bit dry, filling at first, but you're hungry again quite quickly. Definitely not satisfying as your entire diet.

>Who exactly does he owe his debt to? At first it sounded like he just own some money to some local thugs but now it almost sounds like he stole from the emperor himself.
"Geez, who do you owe money to? The Emperor himself?"

"Hah!" Niklaus wheezes. "I wish! The Emperor is a good man. This land would be much worse off without him. It's just a shame we're so close to the edge of the world. Closer to the mainland, there's not as much latent magic, so there's a lot fewer monsters roaming around. Errr, no offense."

"None taken."

>Also how much debt does he owe.
>Speaking of that, the chair he's sitting on looks mighty expensive. The armor and sword he's keeping for protection, but you'd think he would've sold that, no? Let's ask about that too.
"Clearly you haven't sold off all your possessions, though. That chair looks like it'd fetch a good price, and you've got some fancy armor and a nice sword. Why haven't you sold that? How much do you owe?"

"What, this chair?" he scoffs. "No, its only real value is as an antique. All the furniture here is old as dirt, and household objects like that are commonplace. If I could pay off what I owe with chair money, I wouldn't need your help, haha. It's a lot.

"As for the armor, well... this set was my grandfather's, passed down to me after his death. I'd rather die than part with it. There's a reason I sleep in it, you know. It's the only thing that makes me feel safe anymore."

Sentimental young fool. It's just ordinary metal. Fine craftsmanship, perhaps, but it turns away arrows a lot more easily than something like me.
>>
No. 926663 ID: 688dd6
File 155318876406.png - (23.96KB , 700x800 , 124-brood.png )
926663

>How about blackmail?
>would blackmailing them work?
"Well, if killing them's more trouble than it's worth, how about I dig up some dirt on them? You could blackmail them to leave you alone."

"Enhhh... I don't know. Maybe. They already want me dead, it would probably just be more incentive for them to make me disappear. I'd quite like to part with them on 'friendly' terms. But... see what you can find, I suppose."

>Ask him where the criminals are, and who they are. What's the safest way to approach them?
>Ask him for biographies on his enemies and the town.
>ask for specific info about these people he's indebted to.
"So, tell me about these creditors of yours. Give me some background on them, and then I'll nap through the day in your cellar and start looking into them tomorrow night."

"Very well." He takes a breath.
>>
No. 926664 ID: 688dd6
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926664

"The man at the top is the Lord of Gulradein, Duke Matthew Furthing. A human; long full beard, brown eyes, pink skin, snub nose, wiry eyebrows. Gulradein is the closest city on this side of the bay; it was once the elven capital, you know. By all accounts, he's as spiteful as he is shrewd, which I suppose makes him ideal as the Emperor's financial advisor. I've never met the man; only the dogs he sends for me. To him, I'm probably just another name on a piece of parchment. Debt-collecting is his moonlight enterprise; his official capacity is as the East Crescent's taxman, so you can see how the skills overlap. Anyway, he lives in Gulradein, obviously, so I don't imagine you'd care to pursue him, even if he weren't a Duke and very well-guarded."
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No. 926665 ID: 688dd6
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926665

"Answering to him is Sir Hans Minami. A black knight, if I've ever seen one. Human as well, pale-skinned, short beard, cleft chin, blue eyes, tousled black hair. A commoner by birth, he earned his knighthood for service to Duke Furthing; you can imagine what kind. I've met him only twice; he rides in and out of Kelorus, mostly to oversee the Duke's enterprises here. The rumors I've heard about the man... well, he's the reason I believed they contracted a demon to kill me. Chiefly, he lost his left eye to a rowdy street urchin as a teenager, so they say. The one he's got is just a little magic ball enchanted to match his real one. It's a good enough fake to fool me, that's for sure. They say it lets him see your true nature, that he can tell at a glance if you're a coward, a mark, a liar, or an honorbound fool. I wouldn't suggest you attract his attention."
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No. 926666 ID: 688dd6
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926666

"Now, under him, managing the illicit trades in Kelorus, is Jakob Softpaw. He's ratfolk, born and raised in Kelorus, and a fat bastard, of course. Brown-furred, small ears. He's a ruthless penny-pincher, with absolutely no shame or remorse, take it from me. He's the one who threatens me so brazenly that I sleep with a sword in arm's reach. The worst of it is that he's clever as hell, and knows the laws inside and out. It's because of him they've managed to bleed me so dry. Hans favors him because he's so good with a contract. I've never met a man who used authenticity so duplicitously. He operates out of the market district like an honest merchant, the son of a bitch.

"His enforcer and right hand man goes only by Reinhold. Whether he's gnoll or dogfolk, I don't know, and I doubt anyone would dare to ask him. Maybe both. He's red-furred, though, hard to miss, and he does so love his petty tyranny. Almost as much as his simple pleasures. When he's not working, he's either at a bar, a whorehouse, or a mystic. He's superstitious, apparently, I don't know why. He's not secretive about his comings and goings, so he's not hard to find. I don't know much about his background, though. I suppose he'd probably be a good foot in the door for you if you wanted to work for them.

"The two of them employ dozens of thugs, crooks, freaks, and miscreants. I don't know all of them. Mostly they just show up at my door to tell me Jakob expects to meet soon. Pretty much anything shady or seedy in this town, they've got their fingers in it. Disagreeable as they are, they keep a sort of order to it all. If you butchered them, their lackies would just take over, and none of them are level-headed enough for that kind of power. Sure, you might destabilize Duke Furthing's interests in this town in the long run, but I'd probably just get beaten to death. And the Duke would not be pleased, so he'd almost certainly use his connections to the Emperor to find out what really happened, which means you'd get hunted down and killed. Truth be told, I don't care how slimy and corrupt they are. I just want out from under them."

"That's all I've got for you. Anything else before I escort you to your... room?"
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No. 926669 ID: 2202fb

>>926666
kill the rat dude, not the enforcer. Make it look really demonic and supernatural. When the enforcer comes to power, he will be scared shitless and putty in our hands when we go to meet him.
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No. 926679 ID: 101c3c

The last two are the easy way in, we might be able to catch them after dusk. Trying to find this Reinhold tomorrow should be easy, we already know a tavern and it's not a huge town. Maybe we'll catch him walking out of it, drunk enough to say more than he should. He's superstitious but revealing our true nature right away might not be the best way to go.

Niklaus probably won't banish us in our sleep, so we might as well spend the night. Also he can probably buy us things at the lawful markets during the day now, which will be very useful once we've got the coin to do that. Should probably warn him about the grisly scene outside his bedroom, though...
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No. 926684 ID: b1b4f3

Well if the magic staff is turning out to be a pain in the ass maybe we can use it as a bargaining chip to get in with the collectors.

Does Jakob do business at night?
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No. 926694 ID: 688dd6
File 155320356375.png - (18.86KB , 700x800 , 128-nonplussed.png )
926694

[ Dionaea's Feral Claws and Speed subside. ]

>Does Jakob do business at night?
"This Softpaw guy, does he do business at night?"

"Almost exclusively, yes. As I said, he manages the illicit trades of Kelorus, which are generally not the type to open their doors in broad daylight. But, er, I've been meaning to ask, and Jakob probably will too..." Niklaus pauses. "If he didn't send you to kill me, how on earth did you get into the town? The whole thing's magically warded to keep your kind out."

"I have my ways."

The ratkin grimaces.

Oh! Wait! I forgot! The whole reason I came here in the first place! "Hey Niklaus, mind if I borrow some of your clothes?"

"What? You wear clothes? Fine. I'll have some left in the cellar for you."

>Should probably warn him about the grisly scene outside his bedroom, though...
"Oh, right. I should tell you, when I was wandering around the house, I ran into your guard outside. He didn't make it."

"Damn it. Poor Griffith." He sighs. "I'll just tell the servants he died scaring off an assassin. Which reminds me, stay out of sight, will you? Since I can't really pay them anymore, the servants only really stay here and do their jobs because this is their home. If they find out there's a demon in it, that will probably be enough motivation for them to leave en masse."

"I'll do my best." Hmmm, okay, so it would probably behoove me not to walk around the place in demon form. Come to think of it, maybe a mortal persona wouldn't be out of order? It's probably in my best interests, when negotiating with mortals, to belie my true nature and make them think I'm just an eccentric stranger. If I tip my hand early, I give them time to prepare for me, and I think it's better if as few living people know what I am as possible. I've got dozens of appearances to choose from, and Niklaus can probably provide me with any personal effects I need. I'm open to suggestions, though knowing you lot they'll all be terrible and I'll just have to choose for myself.
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No. 926701 ID: b8d5aa

okay, so killing these people is probably off the table... for now. not saying they can't be killed later on. but for now, maybe it would be best to see if we can intimidate or exploit them somehow: the low-level goons can't erase niklaus' debts, but maybe they could be convinced to leave him alone for a while, while we work out a plan for how to get our rat boy back into the black.
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No. 926710 ID: 977456

Are there still elves around? A former capitol is a tempting target for revolution, and the Duke likely oppresses many peoples. A bit of training in guerrilla warfare and establishing contact between some elven figureheads and various disgruntled communities (along with rumours of The Duke's treasure vault...) could get something large and tenacious enough to make The Duke forget all about this little corner of the world. It would take a fair while to set up though.

With such scrutiny you will want to work through agents, which means finding or building an opposition to the current underworld regime. A coup would be simple enough, train or impersonate a capable assassin, find an ambitious underling willing to pay... Far too much exposure though.

Perhaps you could establish some smuggling? Get some funds and contacts, recruit some of the needy who lack the rats' favour. Once you have some funds you can have your little noble here start to sponsor them. Donate some safe-houses, hire or train some forgers... Be an ally rather than a boss. He gets his foot in the door as an underworld lord while maintaining plausible deniability with The Duke. He needs to pay his debts afterall, how was he to know that his own operations would meddle in The Duke's affairs...
Once your competition is credible, they turn ruthless and off the old bosses, with some encouragement...

Or you could just play vigilante. Pick apart their operation from the bottom while never touching the people in charge. Bonus points if you can make it look like higher members of their organisation have been slipping you information to harm their enemies. Civil wars can tear apart criminal empires as easily as nations...

The Duke's Black Knight is probably best disposed of by some religious whackoes. Getting information on him would be dangerous, he is no doubt competent in demonic matters, but perhaps more mundane methods can be used. Thieves can be hired. Or maybe his plans can be predicted (or engineered) and witnesses can be arranged. Finally, evidence can be manufactured. If the correct information meets the correct ears...
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No. 926720 ID: ad51b8

Hmm, seeing how one of the plans we got cooking right now is to join the mob and given what we were told about some of the people we're working for, mostly Reinhold, I'd say pick a form that looks like it could handle a good fight or two and try to pick from your "prettier" forms you have in that category as well. Probably female as well since Iron tail said nothing of Reinhold being gay. Idea being that the picture painted of Reinhold is a man of vice so it might be easier to convince him (should we ever actually talk to him) if you're in a form that's easy on the eyes.
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No. 926785 ID: 2202fb

>>926694
You could be the guard.
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No. 926837 ID: 101c3c

The gnoll drew some eyes so ratfolk would be the better disguise, Niklaus is more likely to have clothing that'll fit him too. It'd be in poor taste to impersonate Griffith, but we did kill another male ratfolk a while ago. Him and the gnoll were just travellers, so that gives us the least chance of someone in town recognizing them.

With that disguise sorted out, we should ask where the seedier districts are and hang around them, to hopefully catch the red-furred one outside and in the dark. Figuring out where he frequents, or even lives, would be a good start. Same with the black market, we could him where to find a buyer that won't ask where things came from.
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No. 926870 ID: cbdfa8

>>926694
how about employing thugs of your own and training them to usurp their bosses. I think this will put them you in an advantage because you will have a group of people that are under a strongman which you will have authority over.
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No. 926978 ID: 688dd6
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926978

>try to pick from your "prettier" forms you have in that category as well. Probably female as well since Iron tail said nothing of Reinhold being gay. Idea being that the picture painted of Reinhold is a man of vice so it might be easier to convince him (should we ever actually talk to him) if you're in a form that's easy on the eyes.
Okay, seriously, how many different ways do I have to come up with to say "this is beneath my dignity" before you all take the hint? Stop trying to make me appeal to mortal sexualities to advance my goals.

>Are there still elves around?
"Niklaus, are there still elves around?"

"Huh?" He furrows his brow. "Oh. Yeah, of course, though they tend to keep to their kind and don't usually get along with humans very well. A lot of them went home after they lost the war. The ones that are still here are... the more open-minded ones, shall we say."

>A former capitol is a tempting target for revolution, and the Duke likely oppresses many peoples.
>With such scrutiny you will want to work through agents, which means finding or building an opposition to the current underworld regime.
I like your style, but don't you think you're getting a bit ahead of yourself? You've obviously put more thought into this than usual, but I still don't really know much about the area, and I've established a non-antagonistic relationship with one -- count 'em -- one (1) mortal. Any long-term plans like this are going to be inherently kind of half-baked until I have more mortal contacts and learn about the Empire beyond Kelorus.

>Perhaps you could establish some smuggling? Get some funds and contacts, recruit some of the needy who lack the rats' favour.
>How about employing thugs of your own and training them to usurp their bosses.
Why not just join up with the existing smugglers? Building my own network, especially in direct competition with theirs, sounds like a lot of work and likely to fail. It would be much easier to climb the ranks of an operation that already has their shit together than to try and set up my own with no idea what I'm doing.

Oh, I get it. You want the personal touch. You wanna learn all the little names and all the little stories of the people who work for me. Such a bleeding heart. Or are you just that bored? Well, we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

>You could be the guard.
>It'd be in poor taste to impersonate Griffith, but we did kill another male ratfolk a while ago.
Taste isn't really a concern of mine, but it wouldn't be as useful to me if it was someone anyone around here knew. I'll likely be walking around the manor a lot. I don't want people asking why Griffith has started acting so strange. Better that he stays dead.

>The gnoll drew some eyes so ratfolk would be the better disguise, Niklaus is more likely to have clothing that'll fit him too.
>Him and the gnoll were just travellers, so that gives us the least chance of someone in town recognizing them.
Agreed. Not a bad idea! I'm surprised. The mouse it is, then.
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No. 926979 ID: 688dd6
File 155338118010.png - (28.08KB , 700x800 , 130-cellar.png )
926979

>We should ask where the seedier districts are and hang around them, to hopefully catch the red-furred one outside and in the dark.
I'll do that tomorrow.

"Here we are," Niklaus announces, after we descend the stairs into the cellar. "Your... new accommodations. Where will you be sleeping?"

"It's more like... hibernating, Niklaus. I'll just climb into that box. When night falls again, I'll visit you."

"Very well. I'll have the servants move the others and leave some clothes for you during the day. Otherwise, I will give them strict instructions not to come in here. Good night, Dionaea."
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No. 926980 ID: 688dd6
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926980

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No. 926981 ID: 688dd6
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926981

Hrmmmmmm...
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No. 926982 ID: 688dd6
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926982

[ END THREAD ONE ]
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No. 926983 ID: 2870a3

and it only took six years, yaaay
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