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881374 No. 881374 ID: bfb318

Previous Threads/Wiki: http://tgchan.org/wiki/Fen_Quest
Inventory and Other Info: http://tgchan.org/wiki/Fen_Quest_Statistics
Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/Lagotrope

The plans that Zall had for us appear to be plans for an unknown future date.

>"I can ask one of the others for this, Fen." says Aira. "You don't have to spar with me."
"I want to. The only thing else we've been given are jobs that don't pay well or don't mean anything."

Holly hands me a drink. It's just water.

>"You should at least spar someone good." Aira continues.
>"Hey, you." says Holly. "Quit acting down on yourself. Besides, without that excuse, Fen would just get stuck with Orjin running up and down the whole tomb system."
"No one else is around to spar with, anyway, except Sir Mopp, and he's busy. Everyone else is doing work, or... today is the 49th, right?"
>"Yes." Holly answers. "It's mail day, so anyone still around here is waiting at their camp for delivery. That's why it's so slow today, or at least now. Once the letters come in, and people get their spending money, this place will get packed."

The only worthwhile event in the past five or so days, since we came down into this new base, has been the completion of my helmet and greaves. We've been told very little.
Expand all images
>>
No. 881378 ID: 86eb65

Sparing is good for both of us Aira. Its excellent practice and good for teamwork so we know how the other one fights.

Do some sparing and explor the camp later. You want to know where everything is in case of emergency. Never know when assassins after your bounty or a wave of undead might get deposited in your lap. Knowing the terrain will save your ass in that situation.

What do your armor pieces look like? Do they fit nicely and have you had a chance to practice with them? Get some blood drawn on the maw so people know to fear you?
>>
No. 881382 ID: 3abd97

>>"You should at least spar someone good." Aira continues.
I'm pretty sure if you were bad, you wouldn't have made it this far.

We're probably hard pressed to find someone on Fen's level, but it's not as if Aira is bad either.

>It's mail day, so anyone still around here is waiting at their camp for delivery.
Did you already get your mail, or were you going to check after the rush was over?
>>
No. 881385 ID: e1c8f7

Join a fight club.
>>
No. 881386 ID: 094652

Ask if Holly could get your mail for you while you spar. If that's not allowed, just play chess while in line.

Any new missions expected to come up this week?
>>
No. 881387 ID: a10c98

You still look a bit banged up, Fen. Looks like Holly's digs have gotten better, though?

If you're this bored, I assume you've been catching up with everything someone of your rank, and at least the next one up if not the one after that too, is supposed to know?
>>
No. 881391 ID: 8a55a9

>>881385
Forget that, FORM a fight club. Why just gain experience when you can get bet money too? The time is right too, everyone's going to have money burning holes in their pockets!
>>
No. 881406 ID: a363ac

>>881391
why not.
>>
No. 881407 ID: c0641d

IT’S HAPPENIIIIIIIIIING!!! 8D 8D 8D

“... It makes no difference if what you say about yourself is true, Aira. It would just mean that you have more to gain from the experience than I. This is fine by me.” Get up, and motion her to follow. “It is said that to teach is the truest test, after all. Or will you prove yourself wrong?”
>>
No. 881409 ID: deec6e

Hmm. Zall must be, understandably, busy and unable to enact his plans the way he wants to at the moment, but once he's freed up he probably intends get around to it right away. I see no reason why he'd keep you waiting near camp otherwise and probably piss of Sir Orjin with do-nothing tasks.

It gets you extra downtime at least, and on the one hand, downtime would usually be good for getting personal stuff done, but on the other hand, there's not much to do down here but train, and it sounds like that's getting a little stale. Let's hope Zall's plans don't get delayed too long... but in the meantime you might want to change things up a bit.

Grab Aira for sparring - and as she appears to be down on herself and struggling to relearn to fight with only one eye, make up a similar handicap for yourself - an eyepatch that forces you to learn to deal with a new blind zone. This way you can teach each other the tricks for dealing with it - and here Aira should have a head start on you.

Speaking of, how's her eye coming along? Is there hope for an inexpensive recovery?

You could also try training both of your mana sensing - since that's independent of eyesight the benefits are doubly so for Aira. And hey, we didn't think of this earlier, but you've received some moderately strong magical gear now. Couldn't you use that to test your ability to distinguish between magical stuff and not by placing it at various distances, or hiding it within a room and having the other try to search for and find it?

>helmet and greaves done

Neat. How's the quality and fit turning out, by the way? Is the whole set complete now? Oh, and we went with the established high-quality smith and not the up-and-coming novice, right?

>mail day

Intend to check on your mail when it arrives.
>>
No. 881410 ID: 15a025

>New Equipment
How'd it all turn out?

>Mail Day
Anything you know of coming for you?
>>
No. 881413 ID: deec6e

>>881409

Oh right, should've double-checked the Quest Staitics. Full armor set is supposed to be done by the 65th.
>>
No. 881443 ID: eeb7d9

Come on Aria, don't be a slack. You and me both need to improve your sword fighting. It is important as well becouse we are in the same team, and we need to know each other on the fiel, how we react while fighting. Rest assured, i will probably ask Orjin for a sparring session eventually, but now he would probably send me off to do something else.
>>
No. 881445 ID: 0c3c2c

>>881374
Awesome! Time to have a good time improving our friend's skills and becoming a better teacher.

Also, that guy to your right has an eyepatch. He must have a valuable skill or he wouldn't be kept around.
>>
No. 881450 ID: 10c408

>>881445
...That's Aira you are talking about, in side profile. She's not off-screen.

Anyways... If it's a slow day and Aira doesn't want to spar, then there's no reason not to trawl the rumor mill a bit in case Holly knows anything useful.

Or just do the heavy armor exercise that Sir Orjin taught you.
>>
No. 881452 ID: 3cc68c

Fen why have you not used your down time to seduce all the ladies here?
>>
No. 881453 ID: 91ee5f

>>881374
>completion of my helmet and greaves.
Have you tried them on yet? How do they feel compared to what you were using before?

It’s been a while since we talked about it, but did we commission the entire armor or did we only get the helmet and greaves?

>>881445
I’m pretty sure the eyepatch person is Aira.
>>
No. 881472 ID: bfb318
File 152501060509.png - (19.85KB , 800x800 , 1039.png )
881472

"Okay. You can receive mail, right?"
>"That's right, we have it set up like so I can get everyone's."

There are runners that deliver an individual's mail to their camp station, which in our case, is right here, in Holly's tavern that now looks like other tavern's I've seen in the empire. If we or Holly aren't around to pick up mail, it gets left at the mail station, and I hear it takes a long time to get mail from there. I'm expecting something from Cheese, so I want to get it immediately.

"It's good to see how the other fights anyway, if we keep going on missions together. If you were bad, you would be dead, and if you don't think you're good enough, then you just have more to gain from sparring."

Aira grunts. She may be hiding her frustration about how difficult it is to get used to fighting with her eyepatch. We've already done some sparring yesterday.

We've all gotten 10 gold each for successfully delivering a full set of antlers from the white worm. Some of us have been spending it better than others. Aira has used a small portion for a healer's guidance. A wizard would still be expensive, as apparently eye damage is more difficult to repair than a flesh wound. She decided to wait and see if her eye improves, and instead spent much of the money on custom armor.

"Aira, when we spar next, I can use an eyepatch and see if I can't give you any pointers."
>"Okay."
"Hm... Holly, are there fight clubs?"
>"... I'm not sure 'club' is the right word, but there are fighting rings. Don't bother with those, not yet. It's just gambling and nasty business, so don't bring that on yourself while down here. If you want to fight with like minded fighters... I can find a place, just give me time."
"Thank you. Aira, let's spar again."
>"Mail, first."
"Okay."

I continue training my mana sense. I've been doing so whenever I can afford the focus, along with exploring the base. Many people are calling it the Cranium, due to it being a dome structure at the top of the necromile. It was made with utility and storage in mind, which made it easy to take over for the army's purposes. The layout seems efficient, yet much of it looks the same, and with most buildings being enormous collections of inner rooms, the entire place is easy to get lost in. I've studied various escape routes in case I get attacked.
>>
No. 881473 ID: bfb318
File 152501061314.png - (33.27KB , 800x800 , 1040.png )
881473

I think to myself while I wait for mail. It fits well and I'm happy with it so far. I'm glad I chose the high quality smith, even if it won't be another three weeks before I get the full set. I've worn it occasionally to get used to having it on, but I should start sparring with it.

I've gotten jokes from... pretty much everyone about how I keep ending up in the tavern with just Holly and Aira. I think rumors are getting spread behind my back, but I'm not sure what the big deal would be if the rumors were true. It isn't like the people spreading rumors know I'm going after Lily. I haven't seen the construct since she was taken in for questioning, but to see her without a purpose is just inviting complications.

>"Mail, Sir Orjin and his knights!" a mountain calls out in the building.
>"In here!" Holly calls.
>>
No. 881474 ID: bfb318
File 152501062110.png - (19.76KB , 800x800 , 1041.png )
881474

Holly collects our mail, handing out the ones for those who are here and storing the rest.

There is a package from Cheese. I occasionally flip the paper to ask Holly help me read some of the words.

>Hi! I'm doing well, thank you for asking! Things are still chaotic at the Fence. Gauche really ramped up security around town, including and especially around himself. Anyway enough about stuff up here. I packaged a small drink from our mutual friend. I hope it reaches you safely, it's the same one you had before. Also, if you didn't find 15 gold in this package, then someone better be dead! It's a lot, so be careful with it, okay? If it's not there, well, I hope someone dies for it, because I did things that maybe someone didn't want me to do to send you it. Don't worry about it!
>Sooo... Garlic Soup's alive? He was my sibling, yes - family sibling that is, not blood sibling. He went missing over a decade ago, but sometimes mutants just go wander off to die on their own. It's polite among many of us, but I guess he'd rather try to shoot for the moon over just giving up and dying. He might even try and recruit you. And he'd mean what he says, too! Not to say you should do it.
>Then again, I might not know him that well anymore. 10 years is a long time. I guess it doesn't matter, he does have to die. If you get a chance to talk to him safely, please send him my regards and tell him we all miss him, even if he can't come back anymore.


In the package is 15 gold and an antidote. I accidentally let Holly and Aira see, though Aira has virtually no reaction.

>"Whoa." says Holly.
"I requested this over a week ago. I don't know how I would spend this much."
>"You can find a way, I'm sure. I'll put it in the bank for you."

There is also a letter from Zizi.

>Hey again bro! I sent a letter last week, and I completely forgot to tell you to write us back even if you don't think you have anything to say! If you already sent mail then this letter was pointless. Dump it, and keep writing every week!

I've already sent a letter back to Zizi, asking more direct questions about what he might know. He should be getting it soon, hopefully, since I paid some money to get a runner to deliver to him. He might know something about Momo. I'll attempt to remember to write him again like he asked later, in case I think of things I'd like to ask him during the next week.

Lastly, a an anonymous package with a thick pair of socks inside.
>Hey, this is your lazy guard friend turned hard worker. My new job's tough and immediately comes with a bad reputation, so I don't want friends or acquaintances to get associated with my line of work. I'm hoping you can guess who I am. It's surprisingly dangerous, not like you wouldn't know about that. So far I've avoided anything worse than getting spat on, although that's happened a lot so far. I'd talk about how you can at least face your enemies, but Krix has a knife with your name on it, so you have to watch your back too. Please respond so I know I can have some faith in the mail system, and maybe I'll talk more about it later if you're willing.
>By the way, they gave me nice socks since it gets cold down here even in summer. I only need the shoes to keep the grime off my feet, and you could use the warmth more. They should last awhile.

>>
No. 881475 ID: 86eb65

Inspect socks for secrets.

Then write a response to each of them before you go eyepatch training.

To Cheese:

Thanks a bunch for the stuff. Everything got here ok so we can trust in the mail at least for the moment. I fought Garlic and managed to really piss off some necromancers by staying alive and ruining lots of there plans. Will tell Garlic hi If I see him again.

I met a southern mage named Momo. Some old girlfriend of my brother who has a beef with the empire. The necromancers gave her access to there power batteries and she tried to throw everything at me. She manged to create a clone of lily after casting a nightmare spell? I really need to know more about how magic works because that was very confusing. The clone is off somewhere with the officers now.

Anyway take good care of yourself Cheese. If you remember our mutual guard friend from the trial see if you can assist him in staying alive and well. And thank you so much for everything. Hopefully will be able to visit after killing all the necromancers. Love Fen.


To Zizi:

The more I live in the outside world the more I realize that you are either the best or worst brother ever. If I keep running into your crazy ex's that I have never heard about I will start leaning more to the latter. Not much to report since the last letter just want to keep in touch. Will probably be involved big time in the final attacks down here so am getting as much practice in as as I can. Tell everyone I love them and am doing great. If you want to send word to Momo do so quick cause there is a decent chance I will kill her at some point. Any tips for sensing mana or using magic? If it turns out you are a secret mage I would not be surprised. Love Fen.


To Sock guard:

Thanks for the Socks. Have ran into a few squads of idiots from our mutual warlord friend. They did not make it far. Will stay on the look out though. If you need anything feel free to ask our mutual dairy themed friend. I am sad to say that your bow was lost during a mission to destroy a giant frost worm death field. But might be able to track it down now that we cleared that out. Anyways we are close to what looks to be the final push down here. Will keep in touch. Love Fen.
>>
No. 881478 ID: 830fb7

>>881475
This sounds good but instead of fighting with an eye patch you should try fighting blindfolded. Sir Orjin basicly told you to practice like this in >>829221 where he said
>>”"You idiots can't sense magic well enough to dodge punches with your eyes shut, can you?” .
So you should start getting your blind fighting practice in becouse you don’t know when it’ll come in handy, plus it’ll help with your mana sense training.
>>
No. 881489 ID: 3cc68c

Fen I can't help but notice that the girl without the huge bounty on her head and no warlord kill squads after her is wearing armor and you are basically naked.

You need to work on your assassin paranoia levels. Safe spots like the bar and the bathroom are the best places to kill someone.

Write some responses to those letters and go blindfold it up to train with Aira.

As for the jokes you might be after Lily but there are plenty of cute girls right here that like you and owe you there lives. Pretty sure kobolds are not horribly monogamous so everyone probably thinks you are hanging out with your harem.
>>
No. 881497 ID: 3abd97

>She may be hiding her frustration about how difficult it is to get used to fighting with her eyepatch.
There's a possible handicap for training or sparring. Practice with different injuries and learn how to cope in case it comes up later. (Cover an eye, plug your ears, bind an arm or a leg, etc).

It wouldn't exactly be fair to practice with Aira while assuming the same handicap as her, though. Real life won't be that kind, and I doubt she'll be able to avoid getting into a real fight before she's healed up.

>In the package is 15 gold and an antidote.
That means Cheese is still in close contact with the other mutants, at least. That vial might have traveled from Erja Nokol to Turtle's Hideaway and back.

>By the way, they gave me nice socks since it gets cold down here even in summer. I only need the shoes to keep the grime off my feet, and you could use the warmth more. They should last awhile.
That's... suspicious as all heck. Examine the socks. Did Moss hide something in them?

>letters
How long do we have till the next time mail is shipped out? We want to keep in contact with people, but we might want to wait for something new to happen before writing the next batch. Presumably Fen's already sent messages on recent events.
>>
No. 881501 ID: 6bcf97

I wonder if you should try sparring with Holly some time? She was in the army. I know she's missing a leg and all but there are a lot of injuries that will disable a limb or two even just temporarily, so it might be worth getting in a little practice with things like fighting with one of your legs tied up or an arm tied down or even with your tail curled up or around so your balance is off. I assume you've been practicing using your sword with both hands. That can fit in with fighting with one eye, too.
>>
No. 881502 ID: 10c408

yeah, I have to agree about the armor. If you got attacked/undead broke in right now you wouldn't be in sooo much shit from enemy forces along with your allies for not having it on.

Investigate socks in private, palm the vial and hope that Holly was distracted by the pile of money you just acquired and won't remember seeing the vial.
>>
No. 881506 ID: eeb7d9

>>881475
This sounds perfect. I would argue that Fen isn't that sassy, but he should start get a sassy attitude, so go right ahead.

>>881489
Well, given the fact that Fen has shown some skill in regards killing people that try to kill him, before and after joining the army, i would like to think that people are taking him more serious. If we get "lucky", people more competent will start to go after him, and no some potato heads. That said, he should start pay more atention and develope a sence of selfawareness. He is an assassin, after all. Kind of.
>>
No. 881507 ID: 0c3c2c

>>881474
Check the socks for secrets. Also, take the gold to the bank ASAP. Also, did the Knight Commander want to know about your universal antidote? I forget.
>>
No. 881538 ID: deec6e

Poor Aira seems a little demotivated. She's racking down on herself, saying you don't have to help her, answering in monosyllables and doesn't even react to the sight of a sudden pile of gold. Did the wizard mention the range in gold it might cost to get her eye fixed? Is the price of fixing it that's got her so down? Or is there something else going on?

>Equipment question

Did we end up returning any of the gear we were given for our commando raid on the Frost Worm, or does Fen still have enchanted arrows and stuff?

>Letters

Get Aira and Holly to help you write a few letters in response. Remember that the army is probably going to be reading these letters, both incoming and outgoing, so there's a limit to what you should say directly. Mentioning the simulacrum is probably out since it's not exactly common knowledge that Shup's fiancee has a doppleganger now.

To Cheese:

- You are glad to hear that she, and also Sir Gauche, remain well and safe. Is there special cause for concern about their safety? Offer thanks for the coin - that should be enough - and the information on Garlic Soup. If she could include a a description or a sketch of how they used to look in her next letter you'd appreciate it, since you haven't actually met them in person, only through possessed undead.

- Relate your experiences and give her the gist of what is going on. Of mutant note is the other necromancer called 'Death Carrot'. Would she know of them? Additonally, has she heard of this southern wizard Momo 'The Conjurer of Nightmares'? Apparently she would've been active in the Empire around the time your brother was in the army.

- Verify that Krix is sending down desperate bounty hunters and that getting tarred for the offense of trying to kill you does not appear to be a deterrent. Tell her to pass along word if she gets wind of the Warlord doing anything else - like starting to send actual competent people.

- She may have noticed the legibility of your letters of late. You're currently borrowing the skills of a friend who has proven themselves quite dependable. They will be passing along your belongings to Cheese should you die or disappear down here, since apparently planning on dying is a thing.

- Wish her well and best of luck with mending Fence, from her barbarian friend.

To Zizi:

- You're still fine and things are going about as well as they could, you think You've lost some aquaintances, but you expected as much out of war, and you're starting to earn a name for yourself outside of being a gold noble's killer.

- Say that tales of strangeness in Erja Nokol are not unfounded and relate some of the more fantastical things you've seen.

- Mention pointedly that you met Zizi's 'feathered girl' during your getaway from the clash and ended up splashing her with some burning oil to drive her off. She seemed disappointed Zizi hadn't even mentioned her. You are equally disappointed someone who could conjure up your worst nightmare failed to make an appearance in Zizi's tales.

- Apparently your worst nightmare is unreciprocated love. Southern magic is strange stuff.

- Tell them you love them and miss them, but that you do not regret leaving home. It's been strange and different, and at times difficult, but it has also been good and interesting. You've learned a lot.

To Moss:

- Letter arrived fine, gift included. You can appreciate the socks as it's certainly been cold down here - and then some - although it almost sounds preferable to the kind of heat he gets to deal with. You sympathize and wish there was more you could do for him. Share some of your experiences and stories, but try to leave it vague, as if the respondent isn't you, but some soldiery acquaintance. You don't know if someone on Moss' end is reading Moss' letters, after all.

- Say that you've already had a run-in with a very blunt knife that was so badly handled that it ended up in the tar. You'll stay on your toes, however, in case Krix sharpens the next one.

- Report that you've lost the bow he borrowed you in a skirmish. You'll still repay him - in fact, you've done well enough that if he needs some spending money you can pay it down. ((We technically still owe Moss 40 silver - or 1 gold - for the bow that we got way back in Thread 2.))

- Wish him best of luck and that you hope to see him again someday. You'll owe him a drink for the socks at the very least.
>>
No. 881550 ID: b1b4f3

>>881475
I don't think "sock guard" is friends with Cheese. Probably best not to imply that.
>>
No. 881551 ID: 3abd97

>>881538
I think you're crossing into TMI, there. We do want to share essential information our allies, and not neglect them either, but you have to account for the fact the army might be reading our mail, or it might be intercepted by others. Don't want to go giving out all the details like "exactly how and why someone's complicated southern magic backfired". I don't think it would cheer moss up to hear what happened to his bow, or our plans on playing him back (we should just do that at some point, not talk about it). Etc.

The other thing is everything we're putting on paper is something we're choosing to tell Holly. And while she's pretty solidly in our corner, some secrets might be best told to her before she finds them out in dictation?
>>
No. 881557 ID: deec6e

>>881551

Winding back mentions of love and southern magic would be fine if it's an issue. I'd forgotten Holly doesn't know about Fen's ambitions to seek to marry Lily - I tried to keep it obtuse, but more discretion wouldn't hurt.

I find it likely that the army might know about Fen's infatuation by now, having interrogated Simu-Lily. And Holly DOES know about the existence of Simu-Lily, since she's reported in on her to Fen earlier, so whatever the story is on there being a copy of Lord Shup's fiancee around, she'd know it.

I had forgot the fact it might get intercepted by not-army types, though, which is a good point.

On paying Moss back, fair point. I'd suggest sending the money right away, excepting the minor worry that a Krix guard being sent money out of nowhere from Erja Nokol from might seem... worrying to anyone on Krix's team if it's actually intercepted. Maybe we'll just test the waters with 'safe' letters and give the money to him later.
>>
No. 881573 ID: 91ee5f

>>881474
Whenever you write back to Moss, don’t address him as Moss, since he purposefully didn’t put his name on this letter. Instead, call him Sock Guard, and then remember to send him the silver you owe him for giving you his bow, along with an apology for taking so long to pay him for it.
>>
No. 881604 ID: bfb318
File 152504741628.png - (15.18KB , 800x800 , 1042.png )
881604

I pocket the vial.

"Holly, I'd like help writing letters again."
>"Drink, please." says Aira, who I'll have to keep waiting again.
>"Sure, Fen, I'll start, but remember the next warp isn't until the 55th. Mail won't go out any sooner if you mail it now."
"Okay."

I'll tell Cheese thanks, and some light details about fighting Garlic's monster along with Momo, who created a clone of Lily. I need to know more about how magic works. She should take care of herself, and that our mutaul guard friend should be helped if she's in a position for it. Still, she should remain out of unnecessary trouble. I also ask if she can give me a sketch or more information on Garlic Soup, or if possible, Death Carrot. I reiterate I'd like her to be thorough. On top of that, I want to know if more reputable assassins after me. Holly tells me I probably shouldn't mention Lily yet, so I omit that. Instead, I end the letter saying I've written a will, as apparently the empire's people has plans for dying.

I consider asking her to verify she got my information about how Zall is trying to gather antidote making abominations, but she must have seen it if she otherwise got my letter. Zall has wanted to know more, but he didn't force me to give up information about how I got the antidote, and is instead simply trying to find those mutants himself to put into the army.

To Zizi, I ask him if he's a wizard, because he wouldn't have told me if he was. Also, that I've ran into Momo, a feathered girl, who claims that she has dated him. I would like to know more about this, please do it before I come home prematurely just to find out, because this is important to me. Also that I hope he does not mind if I lit her on fire with a bottle, but I may run into her again, so if he has anything to say to her, he can let me know. It will take awhile for me to get used to this mail system. I end the letter saying to tell everyone I love them, and that my worst nightmare is apparently unreciprocated love from the one who I love.

To Moss, who I call sock guard. I thank him for the socks, as it has been cold here. I sympathize with him, and wish there was more I could do, at least now. I also mention I do have to stay on my toes, as blades against me may be sharpened. We may be on a final push down here, and I will keep in touch and purchase him alcohol if he still enjoys bad tasting drinks when I see him next. Also, I think I paid him back for the item in question, but just in case I ask him to confirm that he received silver from me.

Now that I think about Krix's assassins, I should start wearing my armor all the time.

I move to the farther corner of the room and inspect the socks, as it is an odd, if thoughtful, gift. I unravel them and reach inside. There is a key, and a note that says 'floor 5.'

I also fill the letters in with details they don't already know that I can talk about, and keep it especially vague in Moss's sake.
>>
No. 881605 ID: bfb318
File 152504747050.png - (27.18KB , 800x800 , 1043.png )
881605

If I think of anything I said in a letter I shouldn't have, I can have Holly change it.

I leave my gold with Mopp, who moves it to a more formal bank for us for safekeeping.

Aira and I go into one of the rooms adjacent to the tavern to spar. Holly will start being busy working the tavern, so she'll have to give us advice about fighting with one leg later. Since threats won't wear an eyepatch for Aira's sake, I first spar with her normally, with my helmet. My first idea ended up having too large of a gap for the eyes for anyone's recommendation for me, so I got something between that and what Veiza had, and made it colored to be more fitting for the remaining pieces.

"Are you feeling alright, Aira?"
>"Yes, you haven't been striking me hard."
"I mean that you have been quiet and subdued lately. You were talkative after getting the antlers."
>"This is how I normally am. The antler run was not usual. It won't get in the way of my fighting."

She's at least right about that. Despite looking demotivated, she is fighting well.

Then I do blindfold myself some for magic sense, as well as cover just one eye. We also emulate different injuries by binding each other's limbs in specific disabling ways so that we can only fight with one arm or one leg.

It's clumsy work, and we find that it's effective to simply tackle the person since their balance is so bad.
>>
No. 881606 ID: bfb318
File 152504748719.png - (53.83KB , 1200x800 , 1044.png )
881606

On my turn, while my arm is tied up to emulate it missing, Aira pushes and pins me onto the wall right about the same time the door flies open. Orjin starts yelling before the door's more than halfway open.

"Fen and Aira!" The door slams on the wall. "I left you explicit orders to fuck the enemy up, so explain to me why you are in the process of fucking one another! Aira! Report!"

I am beginning to understand why these rumors have had weight lately.

>"Sir, I am almost fully used to fighting without my left eye."
"The hell happened to healing it?! Did Fen's dick poke it out or something?!"
>"Sir, I have not nor do I have any intention of exposing my eye - "
"Fen! Report!"
>>
No. 881608 ID: 86eb65

Practicing how to fight in all conditions sir.
>>
No. 881613 ID: 10c408

"Sorry sir, couldn't locate the enemy or any fucks!"
>>
No. 881614 ID: 3abd97

>"Fen! Report!"
My nickname is "Red Maw" not "Eyefucker", sir.
>>
No. 881615 ID: b1b4f3

>>881613
I like this.
>>
No. 881616 ID: bb78f2

>>881606
Functionally, we're prepping for fighting without limbs should we lose use of one, sir. A healed eye isn't going to do much if it goes out again, so resources and time were probably best spent on better gear and practicing with significant disadvantages in place.
>>
No. 881618 ID: 0c3c2c

>>881606
"Training how to fight in injured condition, sir!" After being shot in the foot and Aira was shot in the eye and Holly losing a leg we're all trying to improve to the point where suffering a critical wound like that doesn't impede combat functionality.
>>
No. 881623 ID: eeb7d9

Sir, we are simulating combat with missing or unusable parts of our body. There is a chance that we might be injured in mid battle and it might be a good to know how to respond in such scenarios. We have been fighting in the best conditions, but it could happen that that scenario is not posible and we should be prepared for it. Aira's hurt eye is a good exapmple. She basicly has a blind spot, easy to take advantage of.
At the same time we are lerning how the other one fights, making it easier to know how the other would react in a fight and be able to act on that.
I reaaally doub that you will be able do spill all this mouthfull without being cut off, but if you do, say it loud and clear, facing Orjin.
>>
No. 881624 ID: a363ac

>>881606
"We are practicing our bondage maneuvers SIR!"
>>
No. 881625 ID: eeb7d9

>>881614
This is very important too. Try to say it at some point.
>>
No. 881627 ID: 094652

"Sir, we're practicing how to fight with our pants down and our limbs in five pieces. We just want to know how to defend ourselves when injured and without support - nothing serious, just some basic shove and push techniques against things that don't give a @#$% about the [Geneva Convention] - like zombies."
>>
No. 881630 ID: deec6e

>Floor 5 key

My guess is that this is the key to one of Krix's personal rooms in his fortress. Moss is thinking ahead for when you get out of here - you should bank that key as well, really.

>>881606

Deadpan response. Fail to acknowledge the fuckery, as you have no fucks to give.

"Sir, sparring is going well and Aira is showing improvement. We're currently changing up our routine to simulate fighting when disabled in other ways, since we may not always be given the luxury to get used to it. If you're here to give us orders, I'd say she can easily take on most duties, if not hard or pitched combat. I am ready for duty."

Start loosening the bond on your arm and turning to address Sir Orjin.

"As for healing her eye, Aira spoke to a wizard, sir. Apparently healing eyes is hard and expensive so she'd like to wait and see."

Fail to realize the accidental pun you just made.

"On the topic of injuries, how is Mowbow doing, sir? Has he crawled out of bed to escape being found by you every morning yet?"
>>
No. 881650 ID: 6bcf97

"Enemy not cooperative to being fucked up, sir, decided to practice how to fuck them up more effectively when better opportunity presents itself."
>>
No. 881653 ID: 8a55a9

Sparring, sir, until the enemy presents himself.
>>
No. 881717 ID: 830fb7

>>881606
Trying to practice fighting with my eyes closed sir and We are also practicing so that if we become injured in battle we can still fight to aid you sir.
Nothing like a constant state of combat/practice to keep your edge sharp.
>>
No. 881728 ID: e1c8f7

"Preparing for anything!"

Also this
>>881614
>>
No. 881730 ID: bfdaf0

>>881618
>"Training how to fight in injured condition, sir!"
This is the most Fen-like one.

>Not Eyefucker
DON'T. ABSOLUTELY DON'T. Orjin can and WILL nickname you Eyefucker for that.
>>
No. 881741 ID: a363ac

>>881614
do dis
>>
No. 881742 ID: 91ee5f

>>881730
>Orjin can and WILL nickname you Eyefucker for that.
I agree! Don’t say that! No one will take us seriously if we get called “Eyefucker”!
>>
No. 881784 ID: bbfc08

the enemy is yourself
>>
No. 881795 ID: b1b4f3

I wonder if you could ask Orjin, seriously, if he could put a stop to these rumors. You haven't had sex with anyone since you left your homeland.
>>
No. 881796 ID: eeb7d9

>>881795
I was actually thinking the same. Not only for Fen, but for the sake of the girls as well. I think that they are the more prejudiced by this. We might actually ask him that letter personally.
>>
No. 881797 ID: 10c408

>>881795
Yeah, that's going to blow up in our face faster than the eyefucker suggestion would.

Orjin has no control over the rumor mill and probably doesn't care
>>
No. 881802 ID: 6bcf97

Almost any attempt to repudiate nicknames or rumors results in them getting stronger.

Also, honestly, kobold imperial military culture doesn't really seem to have any problems with sex, given that we haven't seen any official action or precaution against the possibility and prostitutes are apparently a-ok given that they're fully permitted so long as they go through the same screening as anyone else that comes down here. The only negativity in any mention of sex so far is in the implication that it's possibly getting in the way of duties. It's probably not really a problem for Fen or either Holly or Aira. Even if it was, we don't have any options for solving it that wouldn't be more likely to just make it worse.

Also also, this is just how Orjin talks, it doesn't mean anything. He probably says the same when he barges in on any one-one-one training session, regardless of the participants.
>>
No. 881808 ID: bfb318
File 152513167291.png - (17.85KB , 800x800 , 1045.png )
881808

Aira move off of me so that we can report.

There are many things I could say, and most would end poorly. Maybe everything would, since this is Sir Orjin.

"Sir, we are training to fight in injured condition."
"How about you defeatists train to not get injured in the first place?! Why's there a target painted on your food flapper?!"
"Because sir, my nickname is Redmaw. Not... "

No. Anything else is going to backfire. I didn't ask for nicknames, but if I have to have them, I don't want it to be something crass like Eyefucker.

"Not - "
"Not what, Dickeye?!"
"Not anything like that, sir."
"Don't you worry your sensibilities, you'll always be Dirtfucker in my head! Zall says you might want to be a greater blood knight!"
"I am interested in - "
"And I told him you're too shitty a fighter! If you're still interested, see him at after the 22nd hourglass is empty! Otherwise, don't bother him! That's after bedtime, if you haven't paid attention to how we tell time down here. Aira! The offer's repeated to you, and all you other glorified pawns. I'm going back out to do work, there's reports of an abomination down on year 120!"

Instead of calling out floors or names, the army's taken to calling depth levels 'years', since the necromile isn't as well structured as the tombs above us, and almost 100 feet of earth sinks into Erja Nokol each year. We're currently located at year 152, in that sense. The garrison at the surface, then, is up at to the present year, 242.
>>
No. 881810 ID: 86eb65

Well figure out the current time and if you need a nap before the meeting.

Then go talk to the others and keep on doing your stuff until visiting Zall.
>>
No. 881811 ID: 6bcf97

>see him at after the 22nd hourglass is empty

At where, sorry?
>>
No. 881812 ID: b1b4f3

Well if you attempt to become a greater blood knight they'll probably train you for it. On the other hand we also want to find out what that would mean for Fen. More fighting against stronger single opponents is a good thing, to train for the arena.
>>
No. 881815 ID: 91ee5f

>>881808
At least we know the mouth part of the helmet works. Now Fen can talk without his helmet muffling his voice. And he can eat and drink without leaving his head unprotected.
>>
No. 881816 ID: 4606b3

He does have a point about the red being a target. If I were you, I'd paint that a much darker red. It'd match real blood better, too.
>>
No. 881820 ID: 56e50f

Looks like you have a date.
Say thank you for the info. Pass it along to your peers when you can.
>>
No. 881822 ID: 0c3c2c

>>881808
Thank Sir Orjin and prepare to go see Sir Zall.
>>
No. 881823 ID: 3abd97

Well we have a meeting tonight, then.

>And I told him you're too shitty a fighter!
Hence training.

>>881816
Eh. I think the color's fine. If we're worried about sticking out, especially in low light or the dark, how white the rest of the stuff we're wearing is more of a concern.
>>
No. 881824 ID: deec6e

>>881808

You're definitely going, even if you have to lose sleep. There's no way you're letting slip an opportunity to get Sir Zall's recommendation for becoming a Greater Blood Knight and/or useful training for that purpose.

Finish up with Aira - or cut it short so that you don't exhaust yourselves for whatever's going on this evening - and go see the rest of Sir Orjin's glorified pawns. That'd be... Firzel, Bolk, Valsano and Mowbow. The latter was badly injured and may not be up for training or a midnight meet.

Wait, Firzel and Bolk didn't participate in the commando raid. How are they doing?
>>
No. 881828 ID: bb78f2

>>881808
So I guess we need to get to year 5 then for Moss's key, right?
>>
No. 881846 ID: 86eb65

>>881828

Oh right the key thing. Ask Holly and Aira about it. Is it a lockbox key or what? Maybe Moss wants you to get something from his bank or who knows what.

Anyways ask the girls cause they know civilization and you are never figuring this out by yourself.
>>
No. 881848 ID: b1b4f3

>>881828
No. Year 5 is under the necromile for sure. The key Moss gave Fen has nothing to do with this mission, it's for when Fen gets out and needs to steal his dragoncloth back.
>>
No. 881871 ID: 4606b3

>>881823
Once he has the rest of the outfit, though, which is predominantly shades of brown/grey/greenish, the red will stand out a lot, and will be a liability for stealth purposes.
>>
No. 881872 ID: 10c408

>>881871
We're not outdoors for camouflage purposes and the undead don't give a shit about operating in the dark. Just ask poor lady Cassa what happened to her face.
>>
No. 881920 ID: 23a0fd

Not only should the red paint be a darker shade, it should also NOT follow the separation between the helm and the jawpiece. It should go a bit higher, maybe with a sawtooth shape, to confuse opponents about where the separation is, rather than highlight it.
>>
No. 881928 ID: 8a55a9

Offer assistance, otherwise prepare yourself to meet Zall.
>>
No. 881930 ID: deec6e

>>881928

I'd forgotten that Cheese told you to maybe be on the lookout for other abominations, so volunteering to join Sir Orjin for this scouting trip might be good. Assuming the mission won't make you miss out on Zall's evening meeting.
>>
No. 881952 ID: eeb7d9

I had forgoten how hard is to talk to Sir Orjin. Thank him for the tip of the "targuet" in the helmet, we will work on that later, maybe a darker red would help. Ask him what would he sugest to improve our fightting to be less shitty at it.
I say you should keep training until the meeting with Zall, if Aria is up for it. If not, do what you usually do to kill time.
>>
No. 882000 ID: 3abd97

>>881920
>It should go a bit higher, maybe with a sawtooth shape
Conflicting priorities. The whole point of the red piece is to capitalize on our reputation by having our image play into it, and a solid color block does so subtler and cleaner than a more realistic depiction.

Obviously this isn't maximizing camouflage or distraction, but you can't serve both purposes at once, and rep building is one of the things Fen needs to do.

A clean piece of single color is also better than an irregular, seam crossing, or realistic depicting in that it's easier on the armorer to produce and for lago to have to draw over and over all the time.
>>
No. 882010 ID: bfb318
File 152522044204.png - (20.49KB , 800x600 , 1046.png )
882010

"I volunteer to join you for this scouting trip, if it means I don't miss the meeting with Sir Zall."
>"It could, so you aren't comin' to this one!
"Okay. Where is Zall??"
"In his office, dumbass!" Orjin says, storming off.
"Where - "
>"Let's ask Holly." says Aira.

Aira and I go back to sit at the bar. It's just after midday, so there's time to kill. I'll consider making the red paint on my armor darker.

"Will you go to see Zall?"
>"I will. I assume you are?"
"Yes."

Valsano finishes taking off his armor, sits by us, and grabs a drink from Holly all in the same motion.

>"I hope it's not to get respect from Sir Orjin, cause I doubt he'll treat us any different."
"No. I want to advance. Are you going to see him?"
>"Yeah, I think I am."
"How is Mowbow, by the way?"
>"Living. I think he's just fine as a lesser knight, the senseful bastard."
"Senseful?"
>"Greater knights, greater danger. Course, I'd be with him, but under Sir Orjin? The man's trying to get us killed anyway, rank or not, so I may as well get more money. Plus, we didn't join the assassin knights to live long healthy lives, assuming we're intelligent beings, which we might not be."
"Where is Bolk, anyway?"
>"Bolk said right off the bat he didn't want to be a greater knight, so of course that idiot was the one Sir Orjin voluntold to go accompany him to go abomination hunting. Poor bastard had it made as king of the pawns, then we removed the pawns."

He smells of alcohol already.
>>
No. 882011 ID: bfb318
File 152522046498.png - (37.84KB , 800x800 , 1047.png )
882011

There isn't much else to do but kill time, so I spar more with Aira, and Valsano joins us later once he's at least moderately sober. Ultimately, we just try to kill the time in useful ways until the three of us go to Zall.

Dame Frais and Firzel join us as well, and we enter together as a group. Sir Mopp doesn't join us, as this offer pertains to blood knights and other combat focused knights, not quill knights.

Zall calls us one by one. After Dame Frais goes in, I'm called next.

>"Fen, hello. You were rushed quicker than anyone in your squad from pawn to knighthood, but in the need for effective fighters, I don't care. You can be promoted to greater knighthood right now, if you wish."
"What does being a greater knight mean, exactly?"
>"You get paid more, and I send you into the necromile. This is largely a formality, because greater knights are complaining to me that I am giving a handful of lesser knights more chance to prove themselves than I am greater knights. Therefore, if you are a greater knight, they lose their grounding to complain."
"Sir Orjin does not think I have the skill to become a greater knight."
>"Given the circumstances, I also don't care about his opinion. You may become a greater knight at any point so long as the war continues. As soon as you are promoted, I am sending you into the necromile. Either you survive and prove you're worthy of the title, or you die won't dilute the overall quality of greater knights. This offer stands any time, so feel free to come back in a week or two. As an alternative, if you agree to be promoted but wish to hone your skills first, I'm willing to supply tutors to help your swordsmanship. After a few weeks of tutoring, you will be promoted and sent below."
>>
No. 882013 ID: 86eb65

That sounds perfect. Tutor me up so I am not just throwing my life away and I will take the job.
>>
No. 882014 ID: b1b4f3

Oh, if it's just a formality forget it. No real point in advancing if it gets you thrown into the fire before you're ready and won't get you anything special afterwards to boot.

You probably want your full armor before you go into the necromile. Until then you can hunt in the layers close to it.
>>
No. 882015 ID: b1b4f3

>>882013
She said IMMEDIATELY.
>>
No. 882017 ID: d2e2ce

>>882015
Zall is male and the offer doesn't need to be accepted immediately.
>>
No. 882018 ID: 6bcf97

Hmm. How long was it for the armor? Three weeks? Tell Zall you've been told your armor will take that long, so you'll take the offer of being tutored for that long plus a day or two to get used to the armor. Ask him about the possibility of more mana sensing training during that time, too, and what helpful things you could theoretically buy within that time if you theoretically had, oh, say, about 30 gold. Theoretically.
>>
No. 882019 ID: bfb318

The last paragraph has been revised to state tutoring more clearly.
>>
No. 882020 ID: 3cc68c

We trust Orjin's judgement so take the training and then promotion. Will make sure you are ready without wasting to much time.
>>
No. 882026 ID: eeb7d9

Ask him if you can somehow be tutored long enough for your armor to be ready for use. Not only you would be better prepared in experience, but in equipment as well. This would be the best case scenario of course. If this is not posible, i guess that the second option is good as well.
Now everything it's going to get harder though. How do you feel about this, Fen?
>>
No. 882027 ID: 8a55a9

Accept the tutoring and train hard. You may find you're confident in your ability sooner than you think, and it'll also give the smith a chance to complete more of your armor.
>>
No. 882028 ID: 56e50f

>>882011
Accept the offer. Say you would like to get at least one week worth of training before going, but you're not fussed if you go immediately.
>>
No. 882029 ID: 0c3c2c

>>882011
I recommend the tutoring.

It'll also give you a chance to buy a gorget. You kind of need SOMETHING to protect your neck, it sticks out like a sore thumb with the rest of your body covered in heavy armor.

Accept his offer of tutoring and a promotion. It will let you finalize a few things and regain your edge before re-entering the crypts.
>>
No. 882030 ID: 91ee5f

>>882011
Tell Sir Zall that you wish to hone your skills before being promoted. You’re also waiting 3 weeks for the rest of the custom armor that you ordered because it wouldn’t feel right to commission it and not wear it into the Necromile.
>>
No. 882031 ID: 91ee5f

>>882029
>neck protection
I think that might be a part of the rest of the armor that Fen ordered.
>>
No. 882034 ID: bfb318

Get on board the tutoring while waiting for armor train.
>>
No. 882036 ID: 6bcf97

Yeah if you do accept the tutoring make sure to tell him you're perfectly willing to be called on short notice if there's an urgent need for more people down there.
>>
No. 882037 ID: deec6e

>Valsano drinking during midday

It's probably fine, but you might want to keep an eye on his intake.

>Tutoring or immediate promotion

You very much wish to become a Greater Knight as soon as possible and to prove yourself to any naysayers. However, Sir Orjin has expressed doubts, and Sir Orjin's judgement, while harsh, is typically fair.

However, you also understand Sir Zall's need for bodies on the field and you trust in the value of his offer. Training for a week or so with competent teachers - maybe some of the more coolheaded Greater Knights, who can evaluate our worth to their comrades and show us what we are to measure up against - will have to make what difference it can.

That said, this may split the unit cohesion that Sir Orjin's lesser knights have been building. May you request that members of Sir Orjin's squad discuss whether to accept training as a group? You would not hold back someone like Dame Frais if she feels ready to move on wihtout further adieu - but for someone like yourself, Valsano, Firzel and Aira, assuming you will still be part of a squad as Greater Knights, having an already established unit cohesion could make a difference in a fight.

As a point of curiosity, who else will be doing the sponsoring? You presume he has someone, like another Grand Knight and a Gold Noble, lined up to allow for this to be done legally and that they're signing off on this on his recommendation, same as last time.
>>
No. 882038 ID: 094652

Your team is still 'injured', the other knights see you as a promotion target, and Garlic Soup has put a hefty bounty on your ass that won't go away until he does. Train until you've faded into obscurity, then make a comeback with stealth and profit.
>>
No. 882044 ID: b1b4f3

Oh derp I didn't see the second offer. Taking tutoring before being sent down seems fine.
>>
No. 882045 ID: 6bcf97

>>882038
... I don't want to sound like I'm being contrary, but you've actually made me think of several reasons to go down sooner rather than later. First, Zall's favor is based on Fen's achievements, and what he's willing to give (the tutoring, but also the protection from Fen's political enemies/assassins) might fade the longer Fen goes without proving his worth. Also, putting himself out of reach of lower ranked members of the military - who have more reason to want the rewards for killing him and less loyalty to the rules that say they shouldn't - will make assassination attempts less likely, as will simply being higher rank in the first place, since they won't be tempted to think of themselves as Fen's equal.

On the other hand, a good few of the greater knights are undoubtedly loyal to the man gunning for Fen in the first place, and are more likely to actually receive protection from the consequences of their actions.
>>
No. 882052 ID: bfb318
File 152522728767.png - (31.10KB , 800x800 , 1048.png )
882052

"I would like to take the tutoring offer, as my armor will be completed in a little over two weeks. I'm willing to be called on earlier too, if you need an urgent need for people."
>"Good. Sir Orjin is extraordinary at physical training, and his pawns are among the best, but he has little idea how to teach technique. Let's arrange for four weeks maximum of training. Report to Greater Knight Hydril tomorrow morning, you can find a map with his name on it in the lobby. You may quit at any time for any reason, even if just because your armor is complete. Once the training stops, you'll be promoted immediately. Hydril can also stop your training at any point, and if he does so, you'll also be promoted then. I will give Hydril himself the authority and the orders to promote you, as I may not be around to do so. Do you have any questions?"
"Would it be possible for me to train with my squad members? I fear we may lose our teamwork otherwise."
>"Understand Fen, that your cohesion was half of the reason why your group alone was sent to retrieve the antlers. If I just wanted individual fighting talent, I would have sent a squad of greater knights down there. I won't break up Sir Orjin's team. If they accept the tutoring offer, they will join you."
"Is there another person involved in my promotion? That is, I understand I need 3 recommendations from grand knights or gold nobles."
>"I will get you your recommendations. Your promotion will be legitimate."
>>
No. 882053 ID: b1b4f3

>>882052
Thank you sir, I won't let you down.
>>
No. 882056 ID: 86eb65

>>882053

All that needs to be said really.
>>
No. 882057 ID: 91ee5f

>>882052
>Let's arrange for four weeks maximum of training. Report to Greater Knight Hydril tomorrow morning, you can get a map with his name on it in the lobby.
That’s important, don’t forget about grabbing that map!

>"I will get you your recommendations. Your promotion will be legitimate."
Bow to him and say to him, “Thank you, sir. I’ll do my best to not disappoint you.”
>>
No. 882059 ID: 56e50f

>>882052
Say thank you. You'll get right to work.
>>
No. 882061 ID: 3abd97

>>882053
Pretty much this. Express gratitude, and be polite. Zall's being more than reasonable and fair.
>>
No. 882062 ID: deec6e

>>882052

Say you are satisfied with these measures and will train hard while you have the opportunity.

It's curious, though. Zall feels confident he can get the two other sponsors, meaning he probably has assurances from someone already, but does not admit to who they will be. I wonder if one of them is Warlord Krix - trying to get Fen killed by moving him to the front line before he's ready will backfire bad on him, especially if he hasn't realized Zall's throwing extra benefits like decent training Fen's way.
>>
No. 882063 ID: 0c3c2c

>>882052
Do not let him down. Prepare to begin training immediately!
>>
No. 882104 ID: eeb7d9

"I can't thank you enough, sir. I won't let you down. I will start my training immediately."
>>
No. 882139 ID: c0641d

How much free time will we have for regular duties, socializing, missions, and mental training?
>>
No. 882140 ID: 91ee5f

>>882139
I think we should be asking Greater Knight Hydril that question, since our free time all depends on how often and/or intense his training sessions will be.
>>
No. 882174 ID: bfb318
File 152530012007.png - (32.84KB , 800x800 , 1049.png )
882174

"Thank you, I'll do my best not to disappoint." I say, and bow. I think any questions I have about the training itself will be best asked to Hydril.
>"You'll meet expectations just by being alive the next time I see you. Please send Aira in as you leave.
"I understand."

I do so and stop at the lobby. There's a map of the necromile in here as well. It's already covered in more detail than I could ever memorize, yet there's so many blank spots. Two tough looking guards make sure no one steps too close to it.

By the time I finish training, the map should be much different.

Aira comes down soon after. I notice that Dame Frais is already gone.

"Hello, Aira. Did you take his offer for tutoring?"
>"Yes. He made it sound difficult."
"He did, and also sounded like going down unprepared would be a death sentence."

Aira glances at the necromile map.

"We should go to bed once the others share their news."
>"Okay."
>>
No. 882175 ID: bfb318
File 152530013312.png - (47.32KB , 1200x800 , 1050.png )
882175

Firzel comes down next.

>"I guess we're in training together again, huh?" Firzel says.
"Yes, thankfully."
>"It's a step back though, isn't it? I thought we were done with training! And if he's like Sir Orjin... that's two Sir Orjin's in my life, and I don't know if I can handle it."
>"Sir Orjin only yells now. He hasn't followed through on threats." says Aira.
>"Yeah, not since we were in training.

Valsano comes down after a moment.

>"Hah, you suckers actually went for training?"
>"Yeah, and you're a sucker too, Valsano, so we're all in?" asks Firzel.
>"Nah." Valsano continues. "Not this time."
"Why not?"
>"Because like I always said, I got no luck. And Lord Hydril? Well, he's a real purist of a solder. No nonsense, no tolerance."

Valsano doesn't remove his clothes, but he pats his chest where his scar was. I recall it being a strong point of shame for him.

>"He'd just kill me, and you know what else? He's a relative of the local Mithril, so he'd get away with it, too."
"Was there no other tutor?"
>"Nope. Well, maybe there was for you guys, but you know, Zall isn't fond of my type, either. But you know what? It's not so bad."

He shows off a shiny emblem.

>"Now it's Sir Valsano to you guys, specially you, Firzel!"
>"Haha, okay, Sir High and Mighty Valsano."
>"That's better. Now you lesser beings better not be going to bed anytime soon, because tomorrow I'm going off to the necromile in advance for our squad. Unless I survive long enough for you guys to catch up, this'll be the last we see of each other."
>>
No. 882177 ID: 6bcf97

Thanks for the tip on Hydril's personality. It's true, chances are you probably won't ever see him again, except possibly as a zombie you have to kill. Best hopes and all, but you'd better wish him well. Maybe be the designated driver and be the one who makes sure your group doesn't stay up too long and gets at least a decent amount of rest.
>>
No. 882178 ID: 8a55a9

Should you give him some antidote...?
>>
No. 882179 ID: b1b4f3

>>882175
>done with training
Welp he's gonna die. You're *never* done with training, no matter how good you get.

Hmm. A no-nonsense trainer... sounds like an opportunity to sharpen yourself to a razor's edge and strengthen your discipline. Unfortunately Aira is going to have a lot of trouble at first before she gets her eye back in working order because I doubt this guy is going to cut her any slack. Firzel might have ideological trouble at first.

Worst case scenario is that he tries to kill you because you're a wanted man, not being afraid of Sir Orjin. Let's hope it doesn't come to that, since... well, you'd have to fight back of course.
>>
No. 882187 ID: 91ee5f

>>882175
>I thought we were done with training!
You’re never done with training. Even if you get to a high position of power, you keep training, otherwise you’ll lose all the skills you’ve learned.

>Unless I survive long enough for you guys to catch up, this'll be the last we see of each other.
Tell him that if he survives long enough for us to catch up to him, that’ll be a reason to celebrate when we all get back. And if he’s an undead the next time we see him, we’ll do him a favor and put him out of his misery, so that he’s not being controlled by a necromancer anymore.
>>
No. 882193 ID: 3abd97

>"We should go to bed once the others share their news."
I guess Fen's habit of making double entendres without realizing it is contagious. Poor Aira's spent too much time with him.

>Now you lesser beings better not be going to bed anytime soon
If the plan in to stay alive, I'm not sure staying up late the night before starting training or deploying deeper into the necromile is the best plan.

Congratulate him on the promotion, and we can stay up... for a little while.
>>
No. 882199 ID: deec6e

>>882175

Not that surprised, really. Valsano has been pretty up front about wanting to cover himself in glory and/or die with honour to make up for his failing.

And Hydril's an officer of the old school and a well-connected one, huh? Well, it is what it is. We'll have Aira and Firzel with us, so at least we won't be alone. And Valsano will have Frais and Orjin. It's not a bad split-up, really. 50-50.

Give Valsano a friendly clap on the back and congratulations on being the first of the pawns to reach Greater Knight. Say you'll stay up for at least a little while longer to say proper goodbye - but you'll have no alcohol, and suggest some moderation from the others as well. From the sounds of Hydril, he's gonna have your asses if you turn up late, hungover and exhausted on the first day of training... and besides, you want to take the training seriously, even from day one.

Really, if Valsano wants a proper party, he can stay alive until the rest of you become real grown-up adults. A celebration of everyone's promotions at the same time type of deal.

Admit you'll miss the big lug... then CONSIDER the option of passing him half a vial of antidote with instructions on how to use it. He might have more use for it than us, stuck as we are in the training camp, and we can proooobably write to Cheese and ask surreptitiously whether she can arrange an actual stable supply of it.

If the idea has merit tell him that if he - or Orjin or Frais, really - gets poisoned by anything down there, he should feel free to use the vial. If not, he can keep it safe for you until you join up again.

Also ask him, "Say, did Zall tell you who else was sponsoring you?"
>>
No. 882218 ID: bb78f2

Valsino, don't joke about that so lightly. I want to see you again. You better not die, or I'll kill your undead ass.
>>
No. 882221 ID: eeb7d9

>I thought we were done with training!
Wow, so inocent. As long as there is someone more stronger than you, there will allways be training. And that is fine by me, lets you forget that you are about to die in a warzone for a while.

>>882199
I really like Valsano, and i like the idea of giving him the antidote, but i am sure as hell that we will need it as much as him. And just the half of what you have might not be enought for either of you. So just tell him to NOT get hit by an arrow. And if he says something dumb, tell him to NOT GET HIT BY AN ARROW. Make him understand that.
>>
No. 882222 ID: 3abd97

I don't think giving him the antidote is worth it. Poison isn't so much the danger so much as he's going into direct conflict with less training and without his peers at his back, which that doesn't fix.
>>
No. 882233 ID: 56e50f

>>882175
We should drink to that.
>>
No. 882337 ID: bfb318
File 152537230588.png - (22.79KB , 800x800 , 1051.png )
882337

"Don't joke, Valsano. I don't wish to have to fight your undead form."
>"Who's joking? Death is a reality down here."
>"I would rather we all plan on staying alive, so I don't want to stay up all night drinking, whether I'm going into the necromile or just training. We can have a better party when we all make it out alive."

It's tempting to hand him half a vial of antidote, but I decide against it. Maybe I can ask Cheese for another

"Just don't get hit by arrows. Did Zall tell you who else was involved with making us greater knights?"
>"Didn't even ask." says Valsano.
>"Anyway, you can stay up for a little while, right? We can still get a full night's rest before training." says Firzel.
"Yes, I can. And Firzel, training does not ever end. You will die if you think training is ever over, and simply stop learning."
>"... geez, barbarian, I meant training was over as in doing activities for the sole purpose of getting betters. Obviously we'll get better running into combat, but that's not the only point of running into combat, at least for most of us. You know what I meant!"
>"You gotta talk real carefully around the shroomleafers!" says Valsano. "Very literal except when they're not. It's like a whole different language."
"It's not a whole different language."
>"This is what I'm talking about!"
>"Come on." says Aira. "I have fur, and it's cold for me here."
>"Now Aira's speaking the language of common sense."
>>
No. 882338 ID: bfb318
File 152537231998.png - (29.74KB , 800x800 , 1052.png )
882338

We go back. Valsano immediately gets some rounds for everyone currently at the bar, making the place much louder.

I won't be able to watch his intake, I guess. I just hope that he doesn't have access to this much alcohol down in the necromile. I still hope that he has access to some.

Holly hands me a drink that she's made for just me, which has just enough alcohol to where I can say it's an alcoholic drink to appease Valsano, and enough overpowering ingredients that hide the alcoholic taste. She also gives me a cup that allows easy drinking with my helmet on.

>"Hm, assassins coming in." she says.
"Do you know them?"
>"They've come in here before. They seem legitimate."

No one is batting an eye at them. Valsano even waves them in like they were friends, although they don't appear to recognize him.
>>
No. 882340 ID: d2e2ce

Aww, she got you a sippy cup. How nice of her. Stay on guard with these, but no point seeking trouble.
>>
No. 882342 ID: b1b4f3

>>882338
Can you keep track of them with mana sense? That seems like the least embarrassing way to keep your guard up.
>>
No. 882344 ID: 86eb65

This will be the first downside to your stylish helmet. A normal armored guy at the bar would not be recognized. But they will realize you are the red maw shortly.

Might not be a issue but keep your sword loose in the scabard.

That being said they might ignore you or even be fans depending on who they are. Not everyone is out to kill you. So don't stab anyone if they just come over and slap you on the shoulder and offer to buy you a drink.
>>
No. 882346 ID: 0c3c2c

>>882338
Remember, your entire organization is called 'assassins'. Just because these three guys who came in at once and all dress the same are too doesn't mean they're necessarily here to kill you.

...That said, keep your earholes open for them and don't accept any drinks they give you.
>>
No. 882348 ID: b7a158

If they are here to kill you- and start sizing you up, be sure to show them how tough you are by drinking out of your sippy cup in an intimidating manner.
>>
No. 882349 ID: 6bcf97

If they're "legitimate assassins", professional enough to be recognized by everyone as such, then they're presumably in the army's pay and not supposed to kill you. Heck, if everyone knows they're assassins you might as well strike up a conversation and ask them for tips on how to assassinate people/avoid being assassinated.

Still, better finish however much of your drink you want to have right now, and not drink any more in case someone slips something into it. It might not necessarily be poison: even something that makes you a little more groggy or clumsy will keep you from making a good impression on your new tutor and help strip you of your protections from your higher-ups who care about you. If I was a real professional, patient assassin, I would work to make you vulnerable and minimize the consequences to myself before trying to finish you, so you need to be on the lookout for sabotage as well as straight-up murder. A professional assassin would probably spend a good length of time observing you first, too.

At some point in the evening you might try stepping outside (but not going far, just pretending) and see if any of them try to follow you. Someone might want to just try observe where you sleep, or keep your things?
>>
No. 882350 ID: da1ce9

>>882348
This would be, on the contrary, a good way to look dumb. Good if they're hostile, bad if they're friendly.
>>
No. 882351 ID: a62780

>>882338
They're not part of the army? Does the military itself outsource like that often, or allow the more likely event of some person/squad hiring mercs for extra muscle?
>>
No. 882364 ID: eeb7d9

Let's just see what happens. Usually, if there is trouble, it comes looking for you. You just have to pay attention and avoid it, as always. But do try to relax. I really doubt they will be looking for troble with anyone just because. Even if they are here for you, they can't just come in and attack you.
>>
No. 882373 ID: 8a55a9

you're drinking a fruity cocktail out of a sippy cup, you should be making every effort to not get noticed right now.
>>
No. 882375 ID: 2baeb6

>>882338
Keep your mana sense on and your ears open. Just don't make it obvious that you're on high alert.
>>
No. 882387 ID: 3abd97

>>882338
One downside of this bar is sitting with your back to the door, but at least you've got a barkeep who looks out for you.

There's... not a whole lot you can do but be alert? We have no evidence they're here to cause trouble, in general, or for Fen specifically. And this is a public place, at least so far as the local military is concerned. It's possible they're agents of one of several forces who might like to see Fen dead, but we don't have the clout to strike at potential threats preemptively with impunity.

>She also gives me a cup that allows easy drinking with my helmet on.
Also won't spill easy in a fight, or if you have to bash someone in the head with it! ...well, it's only wood, if you bash hard enough you're gonna break it.
>>
No. 882396 ID: deec6e

They're elite soldiers. Fen joined the Assassin branch of the Dragon army, after all.

To quote Holly from Thread 4:

>"Oh, yeah. That branch, heh, the thing is... it was founded on the idea that there are some really tough fighters that are best taken out with a bit of poison in the food or while they're asleep, rather than on the battlefield where they're most dangerous. Cept, the empire hates that crap. They were seen as cowards. So even though they're called 'assassins', there's a lot of training to just one on one combat. Course, only idiots think they don't slit a sleeping warrior's throat now and then, but if you want to get a big name by taking down a big name, that's a good path. But that's what makes that a dangerous thing - you're sent, often alone or just with a few others, to take down names that are big for a reason."

>"There's subdivisions in each branch. I recommend the Lower Knights, a little division of the Assassins that gets sent in pretty hard for the smaller mission. The good thing about smaller missions is that they're still tough, but if you succeed, you won't have any glory hunters trying to take your credit. Then later on, maybe the Ram Knights or Nightfangs, but by then you'll probably have a better clue."

Finish your drink and keep half an eye on them while you ask Holly about the Assassin rank. Does Holly know which subdivision these guys are from and what that division does? And maybe she can tell you a little bit more about what she knows of the Nightfangs or Ram Knights, finally.

Say that last part loud enough that the other assassins overhear you. Maybe they'll volunteer some information.
>>
No. 882531 ID: bfb318
File 152547009555.png - (20.72KB , 800x800 , 1053.png )
882531

At this point, I habitually use mana sense at all points. It is not very useful yet, but for training purposes, I always attempt it. I can't sense them at all through mana alone, so I mostly keep wary.

I take a drink from my cup, then Holly takes it. Although I wasn't planning on having anymore...

"Why did you take my cup? I was done, but I did not say anything."
>"It's, uh..." She leans in to whisper. "A fruity cocktail out of a cup like this isn't very Red-Mawy."
"I do not understand what is wrong with it."
>"I'll explain in detail later, but sometimes we like things difficult up here."
"Do you know who those assassins are?"
>"Other than assassins? No, I'd have to see their emblem to see."
"I remember you talking about Ram Knights and Nightfangs."
>"Oh, yeah. Functionally, they're both no different than other knight or assassin divisions, but who runs them and what they can accomplish defines them. Ram Knights are excellent vanguard knights, and Nightangs, well, a sneaky lot. So they get missions that suit them. If you want to be in a vanguard, you can join any knights, but Rams are the best standard for it."
"And right now we're under the Lower Knights, correct?"

Two of the assassins are talking with Valsano. Another is looking over the room.

>"Actually, no. Once Sir Orjin got rid of all the pawns, Zall put him under his own knight's banner."
"Which is called?"
>"You know? I don't really think Zall named his own knights, I think it's just 'Zall's Knights.' If a new grand knight replaces his station, it'll be that knight's knights."
"I was also not aware we changed out from Lower Knights to Zall's... knights."
>"People who aren't formally in charge of a squad don't often get told. Really, you just follow what your boss does. If your boss dies, you either get a new leader in your squad, or find another."
"Does Zall have a boss?"
>"Sort of. It's supposed to be a dragon knight. In practice, it's the region's rulers."
"I'm confused about how the army is ran."
>"That's normal."
>>
No. 882532 ID: bfb318
File 152547010404.png - (23.61KB , 800x800 , 1054.png )
882532

The assassin looking over the room finds me. I make sure my sword is loose in my scabbard, but there's something inoffensive in his casual position. I study it for a moment and note that he's a decent distance away from me, both of his hands are visible, and he has an open stance towards me.

>"Hey, if it isn't Red Maw."
"Are you here to start a fight?" Holly makes a face I can't describe.
>"Hah! No. I'm an assassin, not a bounty hunter." He flashes his emblem. "And if I were a bounty hunter, well, I could find other walking piles of gold that aren't in a quarantine. My name's Esscaf. Hey, bartender, throw me a drink, something for a buzz."
>"Coming up."

He puts his hand out to shake mine while Holly turns to make something.
>>
No. 882533 ID: 0c3c2c

>>882532
Politely greet them. Request information as to their involvement in this campaign. Make small talk as to how dangerous this place is.
>>
No. 882536 ID: a363ac

>>882532
don't shake his hand. "no offense but I am not in a position to trust even a handshake at the moment"
>>
No. 882541 ID: 86eb65

That looks more like he is holding the hilt of his weapon than reaching out to shake hands.

Regardless you are heavily armored and have gauntlets on. And are trained in unarmed combat. Unless he has a poisoned ring on his hand it should be safe.

So shake hands but watch for suspicious rings and other goings on.

Then ask him what his squad has been doing.
>>
No. 882543 ID: 0d45a9

>>882536
I think a handshake should be safe as long as Fen doesn't let his guard down. He's wearing gauntlets, so they can't do much with a handshake other than use it as a distraction.

Shake hands I think, his stance seems to be deliberately such to indicate that he's not going to be a threat. Maybe ask what branch he's from.
>>
No. 882547 ID: 3abd97

>>882532
Shake his hand and introduce yourself. "Fen".

We're in full armor, he's not, if the shake is meant as a trap, we can crush his hand and slam into him.
>>
No. 882548 ID: 6bcf97

You're wearing your gauntlet, a handshake is very unlikely to accomplish anything. Though, now I think of it... I don't think we've seen that many handshakes? And under this Empire I'd assume the old "checking for weapons up the sleeve" function of it, which applies very much here.

So give him that handshake where you grasp each other's wrists.
>>
No. 882551 ID: 0d40c7

extend hand forward
>>
No. 882552 ID: 10c408

Make small talk, don't shake his hand. Confess that you aren't feeling like shaking hands since the last attempt at your bounty.

Essentially, bluff him out. Yeah you'll be fudging the truth a bit but it'd absolutely suck if you die because he pulled you off of your chair and then shanked you through a weakspot on your back.
>>
No. 882556 ID: 91ee5f

>>882532
Shake his left hand by using the wrong hand (the right hand), instead of the correct hand (your left hand).
>>
No. 882561 ID: b1b4f3

>>882532
So he's purposefully trying to set you at ease. Well, you know where the other two are so I guess he really does just want to talk to you.
Shake hands, ask why he was looking for you, if not for your bounty. If he's got questions about what you've seen in the tombs you've already made your report.
>>
No. 882562 ID: f3fe9b

Handshake should be fine. If he tries any silly shit go for a headbutt.
>>
No. 882606 ID: c0641d

Go for the wrist shake to check for weapons up the sleeve; it’s probably what he was expecting regardless of his potential motives. If he tries to pull you off your balance when you go for the shake, use the momentum to pivot around his outside and deck him in the temple with your free hand.

Otherwise, introduce yourself and ask why he wished to see you. (Actually, do that even if you do end up in a fight.)
>>
No. 882610 ID: eeb7d9

>"I'll explain in detail later, but sometimes we like things difficult up here."
You imperials are no fun.

Wait, we are under a Dragon Knight? That is not something to scoff off.

I say we shake his hand. Firmly. I can't say that i recognise the emblem though.
Ask him what kind of missions he has been doing. If he has something interesting to tell about his time here.
>>
No. 882613 ID: d2e2ce

>>882610
>Wait, we are under a Dragon Knight? That is not something to scoff off.
Yes it is, literally everyone except the emperor and themselves are under dragon knights. That's how the chain of command goes.
>>
No. 882617 ID: eeb7d9

>>882613
Maybe i have more in common with Fen that i thought then.
>>
No. 882623 ID: deec6e

Aw, Holly's looking out for your image as a badass.

>>882532

Show your own symbol and return the handshake.

"Fen. If you're not foolish enough to get involved in the bounty business, why did you seek me out?"
>>
No. 882669 ID: bfb318
File 152553528017.png - (18.29KB , 800x800 , 1055.png )
882669

His left hand was at its side where I could see it before lifting up for a handshake. I have heard about shaking hands. I think it is more common among draconian kobolds than other kinds. I don't know why, perhaps it is a Dragonfall custom.

After staring at him for a moment as he holds his hand out patiently, I brace myself and hold the back of his left hand with the palm of my right hand. I get a weird look from both him and Holly, but nonetheless, hands are shook.

"I am Fen. Why were you looking for me?"
>"I'm what you might call a social opportunist. I just came here with my friends, for a drink, then I saw you over here."
"I don't recognize your emblem. What does your squad do?"
>"Down here? We wander the more dangerous zones and attempt to off monsters lurking in the dark, since that's what they've been doing to us."
"You don't assassinate kobolds, then?"
>"Not unless we find Momo or one of the other big players."

>Ask them for tips on how to assassinate people/avoid being assassinated.
"If you were to assassinate me, how would you go about it?"
>"I'd start by not doing anything here out in the open in front of witnesses, nor when you sleep, unless you never leave this bar or your sleeping room. I'd learn your patterns and see how to get you alone. Then most likely drop from above if I could, or sneak up behind you, and put a dagger through that open neck of yours. I'd do something about that."
"I am."
>"Good. Otherwise, watch your back, and watch your top."

I was never that active at parties even in my own tribe. Perhaps I should just wish Valsano well and go to sleep, now.
>>
No. 882672 ID: 240938

The helmet was missing its red, but then Lagotrope ninja edited it.
>>
No. 882675 ID: d2e2ce

Nah man, stick around and spend some time with Aira. If nothing else you can pigeonhole her in a corner and talk about what it was like back home for you two or something.

>>882672
What was the point of this post
>>
No. 882676 ID: eeb7d9

Speaking of Momo, have you seen any other of her tricks? The last time she tried one on me came out with mixed results.
We might as well ask what ever we can think of. Tips and other things. For example: what does he know about the bounty hunters that are after Fen? Anything interesting about that? Some gossip?
>>
No. 882678 ID: 3abd97

>"I'd start by not doing anything here out in the open in front of witnesses, nor when you sleep, unless you never leave this bar or your sleeping room. I'd learn your patterns and see how to get you alone. Then most likely drop from above if I could, or sneak up behind you, and put a dagger through that open neck of yours. I'd do something about that."
That's generally good practice for trying to kill someone. But on the other hand, if you think you're safe in front of others, and let your guard down, someone is gonna strie you in that arena eventually.

>I was never that active at parties even in my own tribe. Perhaps I should just wish Valsano well and go to sleep, now.
Depends on how long you've already been here? You should stay at least a little bit, not to be rude. And wish Valsano well before you depart.
>>
No. 882688 ID: deec6e

>>882669

Stay for half an hour or so longer and make a conscious effort to be social. Making some connections with assassins who don't want to kill you could be valuable as a source of more information and training tips, if nothing else. Pick a few things to talk about and see what he talks about back. That will indicate what he's interested in from you.

You could... obliquely namedrop Rasyan and reference his killing and see how Esscaf reacts.

"Thank you for the advice, Esscaf - it is sound. Hmm... Pocky certainly could've used an armored collar."

You could vaguely mention your background and try to build your legend a little.

"It figures that an assassin would name themselves an opportunist - though that is not a criticism. We do what we must - in the Shroomleaf forest the seasons often determine how bitterly food is fought over."

You could talk about some of the encounters you've had down here, and see if he'll reciprocate with tales of strangeness of his own.

"During the battle, I hacked a sizable serpent-creature's neck apart. The Empire's magical blades are truly sharp." *gesture to show how wide the neck was* "I also had a run-in with Momo herself. Tried to light her on fire with a little trick Firzel there taught me. I get the feeling you should take care around that one."

You could talk more abou the bounty, to see if he volunteers any information of his own.

"This bounty business is tiresome. Lord Krix, I hear, is hardly even sending his best, just his most desperate."
>>
No. 882694 ID: b1b4f3

You should stay and talk. He made an effort to talk to you, don't just snub him.

Ask how his missions are going. Ran across any interesting undead?
>>
No. 882695 ID: 6bcf97

Don't just walk away on this guy now, give him a little more chat, let him ask some questions. Don't stay too long but give everyone you care about or who opens up to you a few moments.
>>
No. 882745 ID: 15a025

Before you go, ask him what he knows about Momo?
>>
No. 882748 ID: 10c408

Ask if there's been any reports/sightings of Momo since the anomaly clearing mission.

After all, you tried to set her on fire and want to know if you succeeded.
>>
No. 882780 ID: aa0646

>>882748
Oh Fen succeeded,Momo might have survived is the problem.
>>
No. 882782 ID: 10c408

>>882780
The degree of success is important, it'd be nice to know how bad the burns are next time we see her.
>>
No. 882887 ID: e1c8f7

>>882669
Say thank you and good luck on the hunt.
>>
No. 882894 ID: 9d4af9

When you shake hands, Fen, use the same hand as is offered and grip palm to palm. If you want to be a noble at some point you're gonna need to know this stuff.
>>
No. 882898 ID: f3fe9b

Say you can't party too hard, you've got training pursuant to a promotion starting tomorrow, but you wouldn't mind hanging out for a bit.
>>
No. 883082 ID: bfb318
File 152574150010.png - (38.33KB , 1200x800 , 1056.png )
883082

Then again, I haven't been here for long. I will stay.

"I have met people who could have used collar guards."
>"I'm sure."
"Do we know anything else about Momo?"
>"Why would I?"
>"You're the only one who's seen her, Fen." says Holly. "So she's presumed alive and well, if a bit burnt. Hey, why don't you tell him some of your accomplishments."
"Hrm..."
>"I'd like to hear them." he says.
>"Is it okay, in the empire?"
>"Why wouldn't it be?"
"In the shroomleaf forest, it is frowned upon to talk of one's own praises. I have talked of them, yes, but I've attempted to keep only the facts, and leave it to the others to see how it reflects off of me."
>"We're not in the shroomleaf forest, though."
>"No." Holly continues. "But you don't abandon draconian customs entirely even in other regions, do you?"
>"Well certainly not in this region. Well how about you just explain some facts to me, then?"
>>
No. 883083 ID: bfb318
File 152574153964.png - (54.92KB , 1200x800 , 1057.png )
883083

Valsano and the others are making a lot of noise. The other assassins also keep a safe distance away from them, as well, though Valsano doesn't seem to have a care. He buys a second round for everyone. I decline.

"I can say that I nearly sliced off a neck about this big from a serpent." I say, gesturing. "But the blades the empire supplies are amazingly sharp."
>"Not that sharp, unless enchanted for it." He lowers his voice to a whisper. "It seems like your better accomplishment is noble slaying."
"And for that, I've earned Krix's bounty hunters, except I've gotten his most desperate, not his best."
>"I don't know much about them, but don't write off desperate ones. It's the desperate ones that are willing to do the most dangerous things."
"I'll keep that in mind. I would also like to hear of your missions."
>"For what we've done around here, we may as well be glorified scouts. The undead know this place, as they've no doubt been able to run wildly through here for who knows how many years. I'll tell you one thing, though. The necromile has a surprising amount of chokepoints in it. We can get stationed in an area for a long time, and potentially get cut off from our supply line on top of that. When you leave, do yourself a favor and pack 3 times as much as you think you'll need."
>>
No. 883094 ID: b1b4f3

>>883083
Thank him for the advice, that's certainly useful information.

It's tempting to tell him about your two noble kills but both of them involved the dragoncloth in some way. How public was that info, again?
>>
No. 883098 ID: eeb7d9

>When you leave, do yourself a favor and pack 3 times as much as you think you'll need.
Hah! That is actually funny. I am always worrying that i over do it when preparing my stuff. You make me feel less paranoid, thank you.
The only tip that i have for you is to not get hit by anything, because chances are that it is poisoned, and you wont get an antidote for it any time soon. I know, is a obvious tip, but is the only one i got, and i almost die finding it out.
>>
No. 883102 ID: 10c408

Yeah, warn them about the poisoned arrows.

Honestly you haven't been in the empire long enough to really accomplish anything besides killing a noble.
>>
No. 883103 ID: c0641d

Say our parting words as other people suggest them, make extra extra sure to tell Valsano about this tip (since he’s the one going down into the necromile tomorrow) and that all our squad should lay off the drank, perhaps even give him a note with the same tip in case he doesn’t listen and loses our conversation to a drunken blackout, and head back to our quarters, wary of our surroundings all the way.
>>
No. 883105 ID: 0c3c2c

>>883094
It was revealed at a public trial but it's unwise to mention it flippantly.

Anyway, note that the nobleslaying was more a product of the region being incredibly tense and unstable than him particularly wanting to.

Also, warn him about poisoned arrows. There are lots of them and they are extremely deadly.
>>
No. 883106 ID: deec6e

>>883083

>Mowbow is present

Oh hey, our mountain buddy is up and walking again. Say hi and wish him good luck with his recovery.

>chokepoints, bring extra supplies

It shouldn't surprise you that the Necromancers' home turf would be challenging to conquer, and that an underground area riddled with tunnels could be filled with easily collapsible chokepoints. Throw the 'get more supplies' tip in Valsano's direction as well - make it a joke about maybe not packing just beer for the trip.

What's the area down there like? Are there structures, ancient or new, or is it all dug burrows? Have there been signs of tar pits? Is it as cold there as here?

>glorified scouts

"Well, at least you're coming back alive."

>desperation

"Krix hopes to use desperate kobolds to wear me down or get lucky. The 'wound' I hope to give him is that this is a suicide mission. Few like working for - or with - those who needlessly waste lives and damage their own cause. See the case of Sir Veiza."

>Other achivements

"Hmmm. I once killed a pair of supposedly elite mountain kobold bodyguards - although I caught them by surprise and even then they left me concussed, so I can't claim complete victory."

"I've also survived an ambush by a pair of abominations outside of Erja Nokol, one of them quite poisonous, although I had help from a bounty hunter. If you ever face something with poison spines, it helps to have a cloak to shield yourself with. Though it will not help against a sniper's poisoned arrows - that's why I'm buying better armor. Decent odds at survival justifies a wide range of expenses and precautions."
>>
No. 883113 ID: 56e50f

I wonder if being down here in this tomb makes people more inclined to help each other out. So thanks for this information and that you'll pass it to your squadmate who's going down there soon. Offer to buy him his next drink so you catch up with Mowbow before you head out.
>>
No. 883117 ID: 86eb65

Thank him for the advice.

Mention how you are honestly not sure how your accomplishments stand up to anyone elses. Since you have come to the empire its been nothing but fighting and deadly politics. But you are learning and improving.

For a ignorant barbarian we have come a long way in only a few months.

Chat with him further or join the social circle. But keep the armor on. Everyone knows your reasons.
>>
No. 883124 ID: 3abd97

Not sure if Esscaf is just trying to swap stories or trying to network / socialize, or if he was sent to try and get close at someone's behest. Not that we can tell the difference between someone being genuinely friendly and trying to worm in at this point, and he did offer sound advice.

>Well how about you just explain some facts to me, then?
You could talk about your and Aira's fight with that ghost thing. Or maybe some of the fights you were in in Fence, although with Cheese as an ally, spreading information about how Cabbage and Tomato fight and what kept you alive against them isn't really in your interest. Getting into details of noble-killing seems like it would just come back to bite you more, even if we are trying to embrace he Red Maw mantle.

>Mowbow
Probably should say hi.
>>
No. 883176 ID: a363ac

>>883083
"thanks for the hint" also excuse yourself for a moment and go give Valsano a hug its important to send your friends off like its the last time you will see them down here.
>>
No. 883235 ID: 91ee5f

>>883176
No hugs unless Fen is insanely drunk, which he’s not.
>>
No. 883254 ID: bfb318
File 152581678926.png - (27.08KB , 800x800 , 1058.png )
883254

"Thank you for the advice. As for my accomplishments, I don't know how they compare to others, as I haven't been in the empire long. What is the area like, down below?"
>"Mostly old ruins, half caved in. There's the occasional dug tunnel, but no new structures I've heard about."
"Any tar pits?"
>"Yep. Watch your step."

>How public was information regarding dragoncloth?
I'm not sure, anymore. I still won't want to talk about it extensively.

"Excuse me, I need to catch up with some others."
>"Sure." he says, turning to Holly.

I go to the main socializing circle.

"Hello, Mowbow." He's lost a lot of weight.
>"Hi, Fen." He also sounds weak. He is alive, though.
>"Fen." Aira says. "I have something I need to talk with you in the back."
>"It can wait!" says Valsano, about twice as slow as he normally talks, and about twice as loud. "Fen, tell us what you think Death Ca - pff - what you think de - pfff - wha - " He chokes down his gigglefit. "What that necromancer looks like!"
>>
No. 883255 ID: 0d45a9

Lift the visor on your helm Fen, social time is not a good time to be practising getting used to your armour.

As for Death Carrot, orange and green at least. A few mutant names are somewhat descriptive at least, I imagine someone came up with that name for them instead of them choosing it.
>>
No. 883256 ID: 3abd97

>"What that necromancer looks like!"
Time for deadpan serious Fen.

"I don't know. From the few I've seen mutants and abominations vary wildly in appearance, and their names, while unusual, do not describe their appearance."

>"Fen." Aira says. "I have something I need to talk with you in the back."
Let's see what she wants.
>>
No. 883259 ID: a363ac

>>883254
ask Aira if it can wait while you tell Valsano his last grand tale
>>
No. 883262 ID: 0c3c2c

>>883254
His face would be pointy. He'd have green tentacles coming out of the back of his head, and blue scales.

He'd also be short, like a carrot.
>>
No. 883270 ID: 86eb65

Ask Aira if this is one of those "Right now" conversations.

If its not one of those "I need to tell you these guys are going to try and jump you in 15 seconds" conversations then spare a moment to respond to Valsano.

I would assume a giant evil bunny monster. Field kobold with huge teeth maybe?
>>
No. 883271 ID: bfb318
File 152582212860.png - (20.29KB , 800x800 , 1059.png )
883271

"Can it wait?" I ask Aira.
>"Long enough for you to tell Valsano what you think Death Carrot looks like."
"I don't know. Mutants and abominations vary wildly in appearance, and their names, unusual as they are, do not seem to describe their appearance."
>"Gehhhhhhhhhhhhh." Valsano continues making this noise of disapproval until it becomes inappropriate. "hhhhhhhhhh use your imagination, savage!"
"Short like a carrot. Orange, green. Pointy. Similar to a rabbit? Perhaps a field kobold, with large teeth?"
>"Nevermind, Fen! That's such a boring answer, I'm sober! Holly! Drink me!"
>"No, Valsano, though you're quickly becoming mostly alcohol."
>"Fen?" Aira whispers.
"Right. Valsano, I expect to see you alive when I go down there."
>"Then you better hurry up!" He slaps me on the back as I leave.
>>
No. 883272 ID: bfb318
File 152582213467.png - (38.59KB , 800x800 , 1060.png )
883272

I go back with Aira. She leads me to one of the side rooms that I haven't been in yet. It's on an upper floor, and the stairs ascend almost more like a ladder than what stairs I've seen so far.

"What did you want to talk about?"

She takes off her cloak and sword.

She says nothing as she does so. I can't even hear her breath, not like I usually can. All she does is look into the fire. Sometimes, she needs a moment to collect her thoughts, so I patiently wait for her to speak. Eventually, she will. This time is no different.

>"I'm sorry."

>"It's selfish of me to keep asking you to rescue me, even if this isn't about life and death. But..."
>>
No. 883273 ID: bfb318
File 152582217958.png - (17.23KB , 800x800 , 1061.png )
883273

She turns just slightly towards me.

>"I hate parties. I would rather have another mace to the stomach or dagger to the eye than continue being sociable, and Valsano would never let me leave if I tried to leave by myself. I've already said goodbye to him. I'm going to bed. I chose this room, as I don't think Valsano can make it up such steep stairs. Goodnight. Let me know if I can do a favor for you in return."
>>
No. 883279 ID: a363ac

>>883273
ask her if she minds you sleeping with her. you aren't the biggest on parties either.
>>
No. 883280 ID: d2e2ce

Hug Aira. "I feel the same way. Do you mind if I sleep with you?"
>>
No. 883281 ID: d2e2ce

>>883280
And if she reacts to the wording, ask if she can keep a secret, then tell her barbarians do have a sense of humor.
>>
No. 883282 ID: 2cb364

Tell her It’s no problem if she needs bailing out of social events, and if we need her help with something then we’ll let ger know. For now, she should just enjoy her rest.
>>
No. 883284 ID: b1b4f3

Oh come on, people are DEFINITELY going to talk if Aira drags him off to her room and they spend the night together, even if it's not sex.

Tell her you understand, it's hard to spend time with a friend if you know they're going to die very soon. All you can do is hope Valsano survives. Or if he doesn't, he retains his free will as an undead.
Then take your leave.
>>
No. 883287 ID: 3abd97

>>883284
Ah. A tactical retreat, I understand. I admit to not being skilled socially myself.

>Oh come on, people are DEFINITELY going to talk
Sure, but they already are, and neither Fen nor Aira seem bothered by the talking.
>>
No. 883288 ID: 56e50f

>>883273
All you should ask is if she can return the favor one day. Tell her you'll follow her lead and get a room up the stairs as well whenever you're ready.
>>
No. 883289 ID: 0d45a9

Tell Aira to not be sorry, as it's a rescue for us as well. Besides, if Valsano is any measure our boringness would put a damper on things.

>>883284
If we go back to the party we're gonna have to make our leave eventually, and our bluntness might mess with the mood. It might be better to take the escape route we've been given, regardless of the risk of rumours. Valsano would probably get a laugh out of it anyway if we stay, which might be for the best considering how good he thinks his chances are.
>>
No. 883290 ID: f3fe9b

Say she doesn't owe you, you aren't fond of it either.

Tell her if she still doesn't mind the rumors, and you won't mind if she does, but you would appreciate her help keeping out the cold.
>>
No. 883292 ID: 86eb65

Poke around the room. If its hidden enough and defensible enough ask if you can sleep with her.
>>
No. 883293 ID: bfb318
File 152582761294.png - (19.92KB , 800x800 , 1062.png )
883293

"I'm not one for parties, either. There is no need to apologize, in fact, I should sleep here as well."

She pulls a key out from under a bed and locks the door, before taking her scale mail off. I look around the room while she does. I don't see anything unusual about it, and it does look like it's been a long time since it's been used.

>Hug Aira
She's all but said that hugs are fine when not in front of Sir Orjin, but she is still difficult to read when it comes to seeing if she enjoys the hugs at all.

>"This isn't the only key, but the door creaks loudly if it opens. We can't be snuck up on in here, if you're still worried about assassins."
"Always. Aren't you?"
>"No. I'm not. You should sleep with me."
"I said that, didn't I?"
>"I mean in the same bed. It's cold."

It's true. It seems to be getting colder every day.

"I should also remind you that if we sleep together like this, the rumors about us will keep spreading."
>"Maybe you shouldn't, then."
"I don't mind rumors."
>"Neither do I. People have followed and hassled me for my money, not because of who I sleep with. I mean you. You and Lily have a history of some kind, yes?" she asks quietly. "If she found the rumors and believed them, would this bring you problems?"
>>
No. 883294 ID: a363ac

>>883293
I don't know the customs of the Empire but where I come from it would not. Sleep with her
>>
No. 883296 ID: d2e2ce

>>883293
Tell her that if that kind of thing bothers Lily after it's explained properly then you'd think less of her. You value her too much to let that bother you.
>>
No. 883297 ID: 3abd97

You can probably take the helmet off Fen. Sorta hard to sleep with one, and you're alone in a locked room with someone you trust.

>If she found the rumors and believed them, would this bring you problems?
I'm not sure. I would hope not, or that should would not believe them. But if the rumors are strong enough to travel that far, it is likely too late to alter that.
>>
No. 883298 ID: 86eb65

I don't believe so. But either way I am not going to live my life worried about what other people think.
>>
No. 883299 ID: 0c3c2c

>>883293
Not really. The entire point of coming down here was because Fen trying to marry her would bring HER problems, so he's trying to remedy em. Nothing wrong with sleeping with a friend.
>>
No. 883300 ID: 6d6a2c

>>883293
I don't think spending time with a close friend, intimately, sexually, or otherwise, would change your feelings for Lily. Besides, you two are close, and sharing pleasant memories can be important when you're going to be risking life and limb in the necromile.
>>
No. 883304 ID: 56e50f

>>883296
Now this is a valid point. It's not a complicated situation. You're simply doing the smart thing and conserving your heat and energy by sleeping with someone you trust in a room that's secure. Anything out there is simply soldiers' gossip.
>>
No. 883305 ID: b1b4f3

Why don't you ask her clone? She would know if this would cause problems.
>>
No. 883308 ID: eeb7d9

All this, the army, killing nobles, the dragoncloth, me getting almost kill every day, is all for her. I have no other reason to be here. This is not only the way to get to her, but a way to show how much I care, how much I am willing to do to get to her. I would like to think that some gossip is not going to overshadow everything I've done so far. She is not a clueless one either, she will recognize the truth and the lie.
>>
No. 883309 ID: deec6e

>>883293

Start undressing and getting ready for bed.

"If it did come between me and Lily, of if these rumours hurt her feelings, I'd blame myself, not the friend who was kind enough to share warmth with me for perfectly logical reasons... but the thing is, as long as I told her everything, I think Lily would believe me regardless of any amount of rumours - and even see the most positive aspects of it. Sharing friendship and warmth in a cold and difficult situation, those would be appealing concepts to her, I think."

Stare off into the fire yourself for a short while, reminiscing about Lily.

"She is a kind woman. The kindest I've met - no offense intended, for she admitted her kindness largely stems from a position of wealth and privilege few get. She does wish to use that wealth and privilege to help the Empire's people, though. While she may not love him, the Empire would not be worse off if she became Lord Shup's wife with all the influence that entailed - but I'd much rather I could see to her family's needs and make her truly happy. I cannot imagine a satisfying existence without her, which makes me a lovestruck sap, but that is how I feel."

Move over to Aira and give her a friendly hug.

"Anyway, we don't have to worry. There are truth wizards, so if someone really wanted to verify that the rumours weren't true, all they'd have to do is get me one. As long as I insist they do not ask misleading questions, it should be a simple matter to clarify matters."
>>
No. 883311 ID: f3fe9b

Either I have the chance to explain myself and I simply need to tell the truth, or I won't and it will not be my problem anymore.

...Could silly rumors like these really make it all the way to the goldyard?
>>
No. 883313 ID: bfb318
File 152583320994.png - (24.85KB , 800x800 , 1063.png )
883313

"No. If anything, I would cause more problems for her."

I take off my own armor. Aira looks slightly relieved, perhaps thinking I was going to join her in full armor. She lays out her untied cloak like a blanket, which I realize was wider and thicker then I initially thought. I consider a hug, but there'll be enough hugging in bed.

"Could rumors like this ever reach the goldyard?"
>"Considering we have warp magic and there's a Lily construct in the base who was escorted by you and me? Yes."
"No... she's kind, and thinks of others. If anything, she'd want me to share warmth and friendship with those I risk my life with."
>"That sounds like something the clone would say, so you may be right."
"Maybe I'll ask that clone herself if I get a chance."
>"You like Lily this much?"
"She's made me feel alive when I didn't know what feeling alive felt like. When I killed a noble, everything involving the dragoncloth, the killing I do, why I've ended up in Erja Nokol... it's because I want to be able to reach her."
>"I thought you were down here because Lady Apanya noticed you did a lot of what you mentioned."
"I would have come here anyways."
>"Oh."

She breathes in like she's about to say something more. Then she doesn't, though she keeps breathing like that for a moment, holding her words back. She might be hard to read in certain ways, but she's terribly blunt when she looks like she wants to say something more.
>>
No. 883314 ID: 86eb65

I might not be the best reader of people but I know you well enough to know you want to say more.

So whatever it is feel free to ask. Or tell.
>>
No. 883316 ID: 6d6a2c

If she seems conflicted about continuing, go ahead and prompt her to do so, and see how that rolls along. You're a complicated person for civilized folks to read, she should know that you're not going to be offended with whatever she may have on her mind.
>>
No. 883319 ID: 0c3c2c

>>883313
Ask her to say something more.
>>
No. 883320 ID: 3cc68c

Touch fluffy tail.
>>
No. 883321 ID: 363437

>>883320

Yessssss.
>>
No. 883326 ID: d2e2ce

Take off your armor first, then ask her what's on her mind. Stroke her tail to put her at her ease.
>>
No. 883327 ID: b1b4f3

>>883313
Tell her to just speak up. Is it that she can't figure out why you'd want to be here? The answer is, you have to be incredibly strong to have a chance at being able to marry Lily.
>>
No. 883329 ID: bb78f2

>>883313
You've knocked her propensity to the max a friend could go. You keep adding to it but there's not enough room! I can't help but maybe feel like you're dicking her heart around when you don't mean to, you bland, strong man.
>>
No. 883331 ID: 3abd97

>>883313
You don't have to hold your tongue.
>>
No. 883332 ID: 6bcf97

Allow her to make her own decisions on whether to speak or not, she's a grown woman. I do not advise touching fluffy tail.
>>
No. 883337 ID: eeb7d9

Aria, spit it out already. I might be a dense barbarian and horrible at interacting with people, but at least i can notice when a friend has something more to say. If you don't talk, i am going to pull from your tail.
>>
No. 883338 ID: d0d281

It's pretty obvious what's on her mind isn't it?

Fen has a habit of saving people, and he's done Holly a tone of good. If she's not attracted to him it would be strange, so she's probably just wondering how... intimate sleeping with him will be.
>>
No. 883339 ID: aed7bc

"Aira, it's okay to say your mind. I can take blunt honesty." Continue to get comfortable, Fen.
>>
No. 883344 ID: bfb318
File 152583847399.png - (25.24KB , 800x800 , 1064.png )
883344

Once I'm down to my underclothes I move to get into bed with Aira.

"May I touch your tail?"
>"It isn't as warm as it looks, but yes."

I do so. She's right, though it does feel nice.

"You know that I won't get offended by whatever more you have to say."
>"I know."
"Then I would like to hear it, if you want to speak."
>"... There was a noble from Poluputus that toured the farms of the turtle. My friend was enamored before I could even see him through the glint of his golden robe. The noble of poluputus seemed attracted to her, at least enough to let her in close enough to have a conversation friendly enough that when he left later that day, she was inspired at the thought of living a high life. She wanted to tour the world and be able to have such an impact on the world that one could tell which trails she went down just by how it was affected. To do so, she followed the only path the empire knows, and spent what little money she had saved up on... what we called 'armor' back then, and sword lessons. She found a few similarly ambitious friends and set out towards the first bandit camp she could find in order to start building her reputation. I wasn't allowed to join her, but when she didn't return, I snuck out the next morning. I found her body - "

She stops.

>"I think you get the point."

>"I don't know what made me think any of that was okay to say. I'm not trying to convince you not to follow Lily, and I don't need sympathy. You know the risks, better than my friend ever did."
>>
No. 883347 ID: d2e2ce

Man, do hug her.

"No, it's fine, I appreciate your concern. Don't worry too much, I'm not one to get myself killed. Although I wonder if you have any ulterior motives in advising me not to pursue Lily."
>>
No. 883348 ID: b1b4f3

>>883344
Ask what her friend's name was.

Tell her you got this far, you've already proven you're strong. You can do it, and you're going to. Don't worry.
>>
No. 883349 ID: 86eb65

Sorry to hear about your friend. I started this journey knowing that I could easily end up dead in a ditch if I made the wrong choices. But it was this or spend my life unhappily in the forest.

I am not chasing Lily for money or a noble lifestyle. I have simple tastes and would have been fine living with her out in the forest I think. But chasing the dream of being with her motivates me and drives me like nothing else. If I want to be with her I have to be strong enough to take and keep her.

My brother gave it all up you know. I still have almost no idea what he did when he was in the empire. But apparently he made it all the way to the top and then gave it all up to relax back at home in the forest with our family. He never told me anything about his time in the service.

So far my journey has been well worth it. I have made many new friends and companions and learned so much. Am not sure where this road will take me but I am glad to be on it.

Thanks for traveling with me. I am happy to count you among those friends.
>>
No. 883354 ID: 6bcf97

"I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I can see the parallel, but I would say... and I hope I don't sound arrogant... I had good reason to believe I had the potential to go that far. At least, it was good odds."
>>
No. 883355 ID: e1c8f7

A cautionary tale. Get comfortable and thank her for being concerned. You're going to do everything in your ability to not just be another sad example.
>>
No. 883357 ID: 6d6a2c

It seems like she's concerned about you, Fen. Give her some reassurance, at least. You'll be there for her, both as an ally and as a friend... Don't be too sappy, though. Maybe try and move the conversation to something more pleasant; there's enough death on everyone's minds already.
>>
No. 883359 ID: c0641d

“I think it’s a matter of how you go about doing things. When talking of pursuing your heart’s desire, it is ‘do’ or ‘do not’; there is no ‘try.’”
>>
No. 883364 ID: f3fe9b

I'm sorry to hear that. But... this is the only thing I've been sure of. If not for this, I'd still be some layabout sleeping in holes in the forest. I have to believe it's better to try and maybe fail then not try at all.

(have we asked her why she joined the army yet?)
>>
No. 883366 ID: bfb318
File 152584241137.png - (20.87KB , 800x800 , 1065.png )
883366

I reach to grab her shoulder to at least see if she could hug, now.

"I'm sorry to hear of your friend. What was her name?"
>"Shilli."
"I see the parallels, but I'm not after the money or fame in of itself."
>"The path is the same, and as dangerous."
"Still. So far, my journey's been worth it. If not for it, I'd still be sleeping in holes in the ground, and I would not have met friends such as yourself. I have to believe it's better to try and maybe fail, then not fail."
>"Friends, somehow. The only lesson my tale has is to why I didn't have friends when we met."
"Because they have died?"
>"What. No. That too, but I sabotage friendships even if I don't mean to. It is stupid to talk about dead friends right as someone joins you in bed."
"It was a cautionary tale, still. Are you concerned about me?"
>"Yes. I am. I hope you mean it when you say that the journey is worth it so far. Shilli never found that feeling. Most don't get that far. As stupid as it is to think that the expression on a corpse means anything, Shilli... she didn't look like it was worth trying. She just looked like another person looking for a fantasy, and found reality instead."
"I don't intend on being another sad example or a cautionary tale. I've proven I'm strong, and I don't intend to die. I'll do more than try."
>"... It's fine to talk strong. I want to help. If I can help one ambitious person in my life succeed, then it's good enough for me."

I think this is an okay time to hug her, but I want to perhaps change the subject to something more pleasant for her sake. I'm struggling to come up with anything.

I don't think I've asked her why she's joined the army, yet.
>>
No. 883367 ID: b1b4f3

>>883366
Yeah why don't you ask her that, then.

Don't get all huggy yet.
>>
No. 883371 ID: e1c8f7

If she stands with you, you'll stand with her. Thank you Aria. Pause for a moment before going for a hug. Let her regain her composure.
>>
No. 883378 ID: 24b9dd

>(have we asked her why she joined the army yet?)
I think she said she was a conscript back when we met her.
>>
No. 883379 ID: 6bcf97

It's hard to think of a topic that would cheer her up. Hmm...

Talk with her about things she's seen that you haven't. She might have traveled a bit or she might not have, but she's more worldly in some ways than you and should at least have a few stories, right? Get her talking about the strangest thing she's ever seen or something like that. Maybe? That's more a conversation, though. You should be going to bed. How tricky.
>>
No. 883381 ID: a43366

Ask her if she has any ambitions that you might be able to help her with.
>>
No. 883384 ID: 6bcf97

It's not exactly a pleasant topic, but perhaps you could affirm what you're doing now, on top of any dreams for the future. Think of Valsano. How is he so cheerful? Perhaps because he's already gotten what he wanted. He's fighting something blatantly horrible, created by people who don't know how badly they're wrecking things for themselves as much as for anyone else. If he dies tomorrow... he's gotten quite far, probably further than most who join the army ever go. If you die tomorrow, you've done that much, too. So has she. There's a lot to improve, in the empire, and lots about this campaign that could be better, but it is worth doing and worth being a part of. For a lot of people, just getting this far - becoming someone who successfully fights against undead monsters in ancient ruins - would be the big dream.

Obviously, you want more. You all want more. But you can appreciate where you are now, right? And you're allowed to feel good about what you're doing.
>>
No. 883386 ID: 91ee5f

>>883384
>How is he so cheerful?
He’s drunk off his ass.
>>
No. 883391 ID: 6d6a2c

Hmm, the reason why she joined might still be too rough to lighten the mood. Ask her something simple, but still personal. Show you care about her! Maybe what her favourite thing to do was before joining the army.
>>
No. 883403 ID: eeb7d9

We don't show pity, we show true concern. We never had a reason to show pity before, we won't have reasons now. We either care or we don't. That is how we are.
Ask her why she joined the army. Having all this new story from her makes me more curious.
>>
No. 883408 ID: 86eb65

Give her a hug while you talk. Hold her in your arms for warmth and to comfort her.

"You know just as many people die not following there dreams. I have seen so many miserable people barely able to survive since I came to the empire. I would rather fight for a better future and die during the attempt than to not make a attempt at all."

"So why did you join the army?"
>>
No. 883410 ID: bfb318
File 152587827110.png - (23.90KB , 800x800 , 1066.png )
883410

She looks back at me where I can see her eye. I was about to let her regain composure, but I don't think she ever lost it.

>"You're shivering. Get in bed." I do, and get in close to Aira. I almost start to put an arm around her, but she takes my hand and keeps it at her side, though in a way that seems affectionate. I don't want to get overbearing, but she is warm, so I'm glad to get close.
"What was your favorite thing to do, before the army?"
>"Running away from home and pretending that I could be an explorer."
"Why can't you? Many people die not following their dreams, anyway."
>"It was a bad dream. And I don't mean unrealistic. I mean that I didn't actually want to be an explorer. I just wanted to run away."
"You were a conscript, right?"
>"Yes, in a standing army, not a pro-active one. It was worse than this."
"How so?"
>"The turtle army did nothing but patrol endlessly. My allies didn't want a soldier at their backs. They wanted someone to talk to, to pass the boring hours. I was so bad at that, that being on patrol with me was almost a punishment. So I joined Sir Orjin, since I knew his pawns would want someone to fight with them, not talk with them. I was much better in that situation."
"I think you're doing a fine job talking right now."
>"I think I'm doing terribly."
"Hm... We've made it beyond pawns, though. Much farther than most. We can feel good about that, can't we?"
>"I suppose so."

She hisses through her teeth. I think it was a failed laugh.

"Is something wrong?"
>"We stared death in the face and got rich. Now we're spending the money to get better equipment so that we can go try to stare down death harder."
"Valsano seems cheery about it."
>"He got enough money to buy a clean conscience, by sending it home. I don't think he'll ever leave the army no matter how far he gets anyway. I don't think I will, either."
"Do you like this?"
>"I don't know. It suits me. I appreciate you tolerating my clumsy efforts at talking, but if Hydril's training is tough and we're sent to the necromile after, then we'll be going back to what suits me for a long time. This may be the last night in awhile we can sleep easily, and with privacy."
>>
No. 883413 ID: d2e2ce

Fen, she's hinting that this is a chance to have sex. At least acknowledge it. Personally I recommend taking her up on it.
>>
No. 883417 ID: 86eb65

If we survive you will always have a place by my side if you want it. I will need good trustworthy companions if I make it to the top. I already stumbled into having a spymaster somehow so some elite adventuring friends would be nice.


Seduce the Fluff.
>>
No. 883418 ID: 3cc68c

If my dream works out I might end up with more power than I know what to do with. I could use some trusted friends to advise me. If you ever want to find private work down the road.

As for privacy what would you like to do in this tiny bed that everyone assumes we are fucking like rabbits in?
>>
No. 883419 ID: a363ac

>>883410
fuck it do the sex.
>>
No. 883420 ID: 0d45a9

I think she's hinting at something Fen.
>>
No. 883424 ID: 5f3f48

Talking is for when you need to talk, it doesn't need to be entertainment or anything else.

>This may be the last night in awhile we can sleep easily, and with privacy.
Poor girl is getting pretty blatant with her hints.

Oh well, time to go to sleep and be well rested for tomorrow and nothing else.
>>
No. 883426 ID: 4ee93b

Ask her if she would like to do something tonight, you might be misreading her but she seems to be giving off strong hints at a desire for affection. Since this is likely the last time either of you will have a private space (not gonna be a lot of privacy in the field) and Aira doesn't seem like the kind of girl who would appreciate an audience of rowdy soldiers when she is trying to be tender/intimate.
>>
No. 883428 ID: 91ee5f

>suggestions saying that Aira wants sex
I’m not sure about that. I mean, maybe she is? But then again, she might not be hinting at that.
>>
No. 883431 ID: bfb318
File 152588409238.png - (16.89KB , 800x800 , 1067.png )
883431

I have just realized that Aira might be hinting at something.

"Aira. I am not good with hints. If you're hinting at something, I'll most likely miss it, so it's best to be as blunt as possible with me."
>"I try to do that. I'm not sure what hints - "

She pauses.

>"Oh. I've been hinting at sex, haven't I. Constantly, maybe. This is why I try to be blunt. As soon as I talk in excess, I'm misunderstood."
"I expected nothing more than warmth by sleeping with you, my misunderstanding your words did not change that."
>"I think that with any other girl, you would have understood correctly. It's not that I dislike the idea, but I might not fulfill what you might expect from me."
"What do you think I would expect of you?"
>"Hrm..."

>"Would you believe me if I said I have no sexual desires?"
>>
No. 883432 ID: a363ac

>>883431
yes.
>>
No. 883433 ID: 0c3c2c

>>883410
Fen, she is clearly lonely and in need of friendship and company. Offer comfortable sex.
>>
No. 883434 ID: 5f3f48

>>883431
Shrug and say yes.

Considering how little Fen seems motivated by his own sexual desires in most circumstances, he should have no trouble believing that of someone else.
>>
No. 883435 ID: 0c3c2c

>>883433
Pfffft, what a poor time to post that. Anyway, just offer her friendship. And a scaly weight to sleep next to.
>>
No. 883436 ID: 0d45a9

Yes. Explain that you were only asking in case those hints were deliberate and you were being oblivious.
>>
No. 883437 ID: d2e2ce

"Yes." Good thing that got cleared up early...ish.
>>
No. 883438 ID: 6bcf97

"I think I would. I can't say I have zero such desires myself, but I do feel I might have less such than seems expected of me. Or perhaps I simply don't wear it on my sleeve so much as others. Lily did surprise me with how much I was attracted to her, in several senses. It's always possible for something to suddenly shake up your idea of the way you are, but that applies to everything; beyond that, yes, I believe you. Do others not? The empire seems to assume a certain level of... passion from its citizens, and their soldiers especially. Has it been a problem?"
>>
No. 883439 ID: 56e50f

>>883431
Yes, actually. You yourself have much more subdued desire compared to your peers. You were beginning to think you were the only one with some form of restraint or below average libido.
>>
No. 883440 ID: 4ee93b

Maybe, maybe not. Fen is not worldly enough in society at large to know much about that, he just wanted to know if he was ignoring her request or not.
>>
No. 883441 ID: f3fe9b

I believe it. Do people usually not believe it?
>>
No. 883442 ID: 6d6a2c

>>883431
It's not hard to believe. You yourself never goes out of your way for it, either. She may be comforted by the fact that you would if she desired it, and not for any sort of vapid reasons. It can be a strong gesture of closeness, after all, even if it doesn't go as far as "love"
>>
No. 883464 ID: deec6e

>>883431

"I believe you. The same was true for me before I met Lily."

Shake your head and chuckle, as you realize something.

"I'm sorry if this misinterprets your words, but you are sounding a little like how I used to be. Adrift and dissatisfied, unsure what to make of my situation, even though I arguably had it good, though every day could become a life-and-death struggle. My brother told me to just enjoy it as the peak of existence, but I never could. Then I met Lily."

Smile at her, squeeze her hand.

"It shouldn't have to take a platinum noble's prospective husband coming down here to awe you, but perhaps you shouldn't accept the way things are for you either. If you really feel the knight's life suits you, that's fine. It's just that you seemed a little resigned to your life being what it is. I never got the impression you wanted to die any time soon, so that seemed odd."

Snuggle into her.

"... really, as much as I appreciate the gesture, you do not have to live as if the best use of your life is to make my ambitions succeed. I am happy that you have - and have had - my back during this campaign, but if you find a goal worth pursuing you should take the opportunity. Having a dependable ally is worth a lot to me, but if I was to choose, a happy friend would be worth more."
>>
No. 883465 ID: 86eb65

Yes.

Honestly when Lily showed up it was the first person I was really attracted to in that way. Have had sex before but it was never something I chased.

But if it was with someone I cared about it seems like it would be much more fulfilling.
>>
No. 883466 ID: 3cc68c

Yeah. Sex is a deeply personal thing and unless you get in the mood its just work. I was like that until I met Lily. Not that we have done anything mind you.

So if you find the right person or place or time you might change your mind.

I am perfectly fine just snuggling up for warmth and companionship.
>>
No. 883484 ID: bb78f2

>>883431
Yeah. I mean, I'm that way too. Not even sure if I'm sexually attracted to Lily, I know I just love her.
>>
No. 883485 ID: b1b4f3

Pretty sure Fen was attracted to the ladies before Lily, he just didn't like the type that wanted to lay with the hero of the day.
>>
No. 883501 ID: d0d281

That's pretty much how I think of Fen anyway.

In fact, when I suggest he engage in cavorting with with his fellow soldier, it's really because Fen is so out of place and stiff that he really needs to learn how to be around people more. And yeah, that includes being intimate with people, rather than comically oblivious to the idea of sexual overatures.
>>
No. 883525 ID: bfb318
File 152591079545.png - (17.18KB , 800x800 , 1068.png )
883525

"Yes. I'm not exactly the same, as I have sexual desires, but they haven't been as significant in my life as it seems with so many others. I have little interest in doing things with people who don't interest me. It is not a stretch to believe that there are kobolds who do not have the urges at all."
>"Okay. Understand that I can still enjoy physical affection, just not in the same ways that others can. I won't talk about all of the weird misunderstandsings people have had about me, but you must keep this a secret above all else about me. People have treated me as something unnatural. I don't want that, especially not in a place where mutants and abominations are on people's minds."
"I won't tell anyone. Do people not believe you when you tell them?"
>"They make assumptions. They rationalize why I think I'm asexual.
"It isn't the same, but you remind me how I was before Lily. I was resigned to my life."
>"I can't rely on nobility crossing paths with me to get inspired."
"..."

I falter, as I would have no past advice for a version of myself that did not meet Lily. I would not be able to tell myself about Lily and expect to be inspired to travel so far. I would need to see Lily myself. If Aira is the same way, I can't tell her that there's a Lily out there for her and expect her to change mentalities like I did.

"If you do find a goal worth pursuing, don't feel shackled to my goals. Don't feel shackled regardless."
>"Okay." She says it halfheartedly.

I slip under the covers, and she does the same, scooting backwards into me. I squeeze her gently, and keep her hand in mine. She appears relaxed.

If there's anything else to be said, I'm missing it.
>>
No. 883527 ID: b1b4f3

"Goodnight."
>>
No. 883528 ID: 3abd97

For two people who see themselves as bad at social skills, you two sure did a good job of sharing your feelings in a detailed and thorough manner.

>If there's anything else to be said, I'm missing it.
You're fine.
>>
No. 883529 ID: a363ac

>>883525
sleep right
>>
No. 883530 ID: 0d45a9

I think you've said all that can be said conversation-wise, maybe a "Good night." but that's probably optional. Time to get some rest.
>>
No. 883531 ID: 91ee5f

>>883525
That’s a smart thing you’re doing right there. Using Aira’s ears to keep your face warm.

>If there's anything else to be said, I'm missing it.
Obviously, you should be saying, “Good night.”
>>
No. 883533 ID: 86eb65

Night.
>>
No. 883535 ID: deec6e

Yeah, if there's more words to say than g'night, they can come later. Rest now and train hard on the morrow.
>>
No. 883539 ID: eeb7d9

Good night, comrade.
>>
No. 883569 ID: 0c3c2c

>>883525
Sleep.
>>
No. 883581 ID: d2e2ce

"Sweet dreams."
>>
No. 883587 ID: 14e348

You might have implied that she's not interesting. You could say "thank you for telling me", which would alleviate that a little, and make a mental note to ask her more about herself some time.
>>
No. 883641 ID: d0d281

Oh Fen, you are so clueless. She might not be a sexual creature, but she clearly has a crush on you that she's suppressing. That's ok though, it's not like you would act on it anyway.
>>
No. 883775 ID: a6c84a

'night Aira
>>
No. 883817 ID: 2007b6

Tell her, even if there isn't any equivalent Lily waiting somewhere out there for her to eventually run into, there's nothing wrong or unnatural with lacking the desire for sex, any more so than lacking the desire to gamble or get drunk or fight. Y'know who else probably had no sex drive? The great beasts which defined the regions different kobolds come from. Not like they'd need to be reproducing, right?
>>
No. 883839 ID: 094652

Pet her to sleep.
>>
No. 883989 ID: e1c8f7

You're lucky to have a friend like her, Fen.
>>
No. 884029 ID: b96611

Bedtime
>>
No. 884055 ID: 15a025

Goodnight Aira.
>>
No. 884810 ID: bfb318
File 152660273202.png - (37.15KB , 800x800 , 1069.png )
884810

"Goodnight, Aira, thank you for telling me. Even if you never find something that changes your outlook like I did, there is nothing wrong with you as you are now."
>"Okay. Goodnight, Fen."

We wake up, get dressed, and move down to the bar. Holly has breakfast already made for us.

>"Hey, you two." says Holly. "One of Sir Hydril's lesser knights stopped by with directions. First, no armor until further notice, so we were told to store your armor here. Second, training is done a week at a time, once you go into Sir Hydril's wing, you only leave after the week is up, unless you give up or get kicked out. It's either that, or just go down into the necromile, so I told Sir Mopp to expect you two."
>>
No. 884811 ID: 86eb65

Get fed and make sure you have what you need before heading out. Sounds like this guy is going to put you through hell.

Hopefully will be worth it.
>>
No. 884814 ID: b1b4f3

>>884810
I don't get it, aren't you supposed to train in armor once you start using it?
Oh well, nothing to be done about it. Gotta follow given directions. If this is a trick so they can try to assassinate you easier I'm gonna be mad and people are going to die.
>>
No. 884815 ID: a363ac

>>884810
take off all your clothes but your underware, eat, and get moving. He said no Armour but I think modesty is reasonable.
>>
No. 884817 ID: d5ee3d

Well, eat up, drop off your armor and be off. Let's assume this time that clothes don't count as armor, because if they don't you'll freeze to death. Bring your cloak, even. If you're going to be there for a week you'll need a blanket, and you can use it on your way there to obscure who you are so people don't go "hey there goes Fen without any of his armor".
>>
No. 884823 ID: 3abd97

>>884810
Well, I suppose we'll see you in a week then.

We're right back to training naked, it seems.
>>
No. 884826 ID: deec6e

>>884810

Thank Holly and enjoy your breakfast, ask her how the party last night went after you left. Then head to sir Mopp to drop off your armor. Ask both of them if they know anything about this Sir Hydril - we've only gotten what Valsano told us so far.
>>
No. 884828 ID: eeb7d9

Well, there goes our plan for training WITH armor. But i don't think we should go without clothes. If we don't need them, we can just discard them.
>>
No. 884833 ID: 56e50f

>>884810
Don't be afraid to ask for extra portions. You're going to need those calories.
>>
No. 884835 ID: b1b4f3

...maybe you should bring a bedroll.
>>
No. 884845 ID: 91ee5f

>>884810
>First, no armor until further notice, so we were told to store your armor here.
No armor, but there was nothing saying that we couldn’t bring our weapons. Ask Holly if you’re supposed to also leave your weapons here?

If you’re allowed to bring them, then bring your sword and shield.

Ask Holly if you have to be naked? You don’t expect Sir Hydril to have the same training method as Sir Orjin, but you’d rather know ahead of time so that you don’t look like an idiot by showing naked when you don’t have to do that.

>Second, training is done a week at a time, once you go into Sir Hydril's wing, you only leave after the week is up, unless you give up or get kicked out.
We should ask what we’re allowed to bring with us, so that we don’t forget anything.

>>884815
>take off all your clothes but your underware
>>884823
>We're right back to training naked, it seems.
No, you fools! That’s Sir Orjin’s training method! Sir Hydril probably doesn’t even do that! We should ask and make sure before we do that!
>>
No. 884993 ID: 10c408

If you are going to ask about what kind of clothing to bring, at least try to make it a terrible barbarian joke instead of repeating the same thing from when Sir Orjin was training everyone.
>>
No. 885002 ID: bfb318
File 152669774770.png - (29.45KB , 800x800 , 1070.png )
885002

"Okay, I'll see you in a week, then."

I eat the food. It's dense, but nonetheless, I get some bread out of one of the cupboards behind the counter.

"Do you want anything extra, Aira?"
>"I'm fine."
"Thank you, Holly."

I go to Sir Mopp as Aira follows.

"Hello."
>"Fen."
"I've been told to leave my armor here."
>"That's right."
"Are we going to be training naked, again?"
>"... You know? I have to be honest with you now. Sir Orjin says training naked is a time honored tradition, or something to that effect, but in all my days as a knight, it's only been our group I see trotting over the dragon's lands without a scrap on us."
>"I hope Sir Hydril is not the next Sir Orjin, then." says Aira.
>"He's not, since he'll be giving you these."

He pulls out some robes. They look high class.

>"Sir Hydril's students wear these. Comfortable, and... well, they aren't that warm, but I expect you'll be warming up by doing laps."
"Should I bring a bedroll?"
>"No, Sir Hydril most likely has decent quarters set aside. He is the relative of the mithril here, so he has funds to spare. All you'll be bringing is your swords."
"No shield?"
>"Not this week, anyway. Oh, and wear your emblems around your neck. They can be tucked into the robes to avoid it flying."
>>
No. 885004 ID: bfb318
File 152669777534.png - (34.27KB , 800x800 , 1071.png )
885004

We get changed into these robes. They let air in, and there are many times I would have liked to own these to not overheat during long bouts of exercise, but now, here... I'd rather any other training clothes.

Firzel and Frais catch up to us as we find Sir Hydril's wing within the same large building that Sir Zall was in.

There are several other kobold besides us in the waiting room. Firzel immediately starts chatting with them. Most of them are either like us and looking to train for greater knighthood, but some are greater knights who have had talents called into question, either by others or by themselves.
>>
No. 885005 ID: bfb318
File 152669778425.png - (27.14KB , 800x800 , 1072.png )
885005

An extraordinarily tall person comes out of the room ahead.

>"Hello."

>"I am Sir Hydril. Your goal this week is to hit me with a training weapon once. You must first declare you would like a try, at any point. Once I am ready to defend myself, I will accept. You will then make an attempt, and it will be over when I hit you, when you hit me, or you run over 15 feet from me. Everything you do this week should focus on hitting me once. If you fail when the week is over, you fail the class. You may ask me or any of my lesser knights for tutilage. There are training dummies in the other room. The rest should have been explained. Do not leave the building. You may ask anything of my pawns within reason, including fetching items from outside if you require. I will be in the main training hall behind me if you have any questions, or wish to make an attempt to strike me."
>>
No. 885007 ID: 094652

"Do you reserve the right to deny us all a chance for a whole week so we can't challenge you ever, or is that only if some lugnut tries to debilitate you with poison?"
>>
No. 885008 ID: a363ac

>>885005
ask for an attempt.
>>
No. 885009 ID: 05d8dc

Ask him if you can fight him now.
>>
No. 885010 ID: 86eb65

Ask if you can make a attempt. It would be good to know how much he outclasses you early on.

Then we can find out what he suggests to work on and how we can improve.

(lets hope this guy is not some creep)
>>
No. 885011 ID: b1b4f3

>>885005
So you have to hit him FIRST. He didn't say it needed to be a lethal spot, either. You could hit him on the knuckle and pass.

Do some warmup exercises, then go ask him if you can make an attempt as many times as you want, and as frequently as you want. Then start by asking for some training. Let's just assume this guy is going to beat you if you make an attempt, so don't dive headfirst into this. Heck, a failed attempt could result in you being injured, training weapon or no.

I'd really like to watch someone else make an attempt, just to see how far behind you are.
>>
No. 885012 ID: 05d8dc

Ask him if you can fight him now.
>>
No. 885013 ID: b59fad

Don't ask for an attempt right away, certainly not in front of everyone. You have a reputation to maintain, you know? Let a few other people make the attempt and fail, so that if you attempt and fail people won't get their good impression of you shattered. Later, when they're used to the idea that he's hard to hit, that'll be fine. Besides, you came here to learn, right? If you managed to win you wouldn't be gaining much. Maybe set a personal goal that you'll only attempt decent strikes on him? Like, you'll avoid going for the easy extremity scrapes. Make it a bit harder on yourself so you learn more. You can change your mind when the deadline comes closer.
>>
No. 885014 ID: bfb318

As Aira is getting her own custom armor, a paper doll has been made available for anyone who might like to design armor for her.

>>/questdis/123092
>>
No. 885015 ID: f3fe9b

I think we ought to wait for somebody more ambitious to make an attempt, and see what happens. Then ask for tutelage.
>>
No. 885017 ID: eeb7d9

I really doubt there will be anyone bold enough to try hitting him now. Other than us. But i'm going to go with not trying hit him now. We have time, there is no need to rush it. Let's see if anyone trys first and then analyze what we are up against.
>>
No. 885020 ID: 10c408

Don't be the first example Fen, let some other yahoo volunteer and get smacked. Pay attention when it happens.
>>
No. 885021 ID: 17c2ee

Consider throwing the weapon at him for your attempt.
>>
No. 885022 ID: b1b4f3

>>885021
That's probably too easily blocked. On the other hand we should probably clarify what counts as a hit.
>>
No. 885025 ID: 0c3c2c

>>885005
So... Is this training for duels?
>>
No. 885026 ID: 7c90bc

Ask if this will be armed or unarmed combat. Also Fen is of course going to have to try and hit him. We understand he'll probably get smacked, but we need to know what we are up against and and we are going to learn a lot about our teacher from actually trying. It's not like you get just one shot, right?
>>
No. 885029 ID: 988567

Better ask to at least get a feel for what we will be up against. We have tended to learn much faster by doing than seeing

They will almost certainly be quick, light on the feet, and have a reach longer than you would expect. Most likely, he fights with the object of winning in the least amount of moves, ideally in one action. Let them make the first move so we can see if we can parry-stab.
Also, it may be unconventional but you could grab their sword and hold on. If he doesn’t count that as a hit you could pull them into your striking range or force him to let it go.
All in all, you need to gauge his strengths and find weaknesses to exploit.
>>
No. 885035 ID: b1b4f3

...wait a minute, isn't this test a bit flawed? Hitting an enemy first doesn't mean you win. You have to not get hit in the enemy's last moments as well, as Fen showed during his sparring match back in Shroomleaf.
>>
No. 885040 ID: 91ee5f

>>885005
Ask what happens if you both strike each other at the same time? Does that count as a pass or a fail?

Ask how many times per day do we get to make an attempt?

>>885026
>Ask if this will be armed or unarmed combat?
Sir Hydril said we had to hit him with a training weapon, so I think the answer is obviously armed combat.

>>885035
>questioning Sir Hydril’s logic in this type of training.
That sounds like a really bad thing to do. I don’t think we should mention any of that.
>>
No. 885045 ID: b1b4f3

>>885040
Fine, then we can just give him a leading question:
"What happens if we hit eachother at the same time, or almost at the same time?"
>>
No. 885064 ID: 3abd97

We don't have a training weapon, yet. We brought our regular sword. So we can't make a hit immediately.

>Sir Hydril
Interesting. I didn't realize there were abominations in the army, or that they held rank. (No don't say that out loud). He's a very lucky abomination too- he's far more normal looking than the others we've seen.

>the test
Well, he's rather obviously got a reach advantage. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd fast, too. In a real battle, I'd be suggesting unfair tactics to get around this (shoot him, ambush him, hit him with numbers, poison, etc) but the challenge here appears to be able to overcome an asymmetrical match-up in a 'fair' fight.

Seems like training for boss fights. Or the coliseum, where we eventually get there.
>>
No. 885066 ID: 49a777

I don't think that Sir Hydril is an abomination, Erja Nokol's mutations are always like that (unpredictable and noticeable, that is), abominations are the ones that sat in tar pits, and, as a result, no longer clearly resemble kobolds; Sir Hyrdil is simply and Erja Nokol kobold, like Cheese.
>>
No. 885068 ID: 3abd97

>>885066
He's not a cave kobold. (He's got similar coloring to Cheese, sure, but that's not normal Cave Kobold coloring- that's one of her mutations). Proportion-wise, he pretty clearly started out as an Oceanic Kobold. They're the ones with that head shape, whip tails, and the funny oversized paw-hands.

The thing is there's no normal set of region influences that would have made him look this way- Fisher's Run causes discoloration, but the effect is minimal on Oceanic Kobolds, and none of the regions cause gigantism. Which means he has to be a mutant or abomination- but his mutations are impressive and pronounced and apparently useful in a fight. That's more like Cabbage and Tomato than Cheese, which says abomination to me.
>>
No. 885069 ID: e5c658

>>885068
Mutants aren't all cave kobolds. This guy is just a different kobold who was mutated. Abominations are the result of leaving kobolds in the mutating pits.
>>
No. 885071 ID: c0641d

“I doubt they could count towards completion, but are unarmed strikes allowed during a challenge?”
>>
No. 885074 ID: deec6e

Hmm... training us to get the first blow only? Someone's not got much faith in our survivability. May have something to do with being given a few weeks only to turn soldiers into commandos.

That said, getting first blow doesn't look to be easy. His reach is good and he seems to be a mutated Erja Nokol-born Oceanic, so his speed and reflexes could be downright wicked. You trained against skilled Oceanics serving under Lord Shup and those tended to get the better of you. Harken back to those lessons, as they're the best experience to have prepared you for this.

Hydril's focus is clearly to get you to train your reflexes, speed and ability to read your opponent, so that you stand a chance of getting the first blow. Beyond getting the first blow, you should also not open yourself up to deadly retaliation, as whether or not Hydril is training you for it you should definitely be training yourself for it. With undead opponents, follow-up hits are almost assured, so closing your own openings will be important. Your first blow should also be something that could've been considered lethal or serious, had you not used a training weapon.

Let those be the goals you set for hitting Sir Hydril; First blow, serious hit, avoided retaliation (even if he doesn't act on it).

If you find you cannot match Hydril, we can always step down those goals to just getting a first blow, but those are a good high benchmark to aim for when pushing yourself during training - success means you could win against a Greater Knight, after all. You should challenge him every day, but only at the end of the day, after a full day's worth of exertion and training, both for him and for you. Challenging him at the end of day has a few benefits - someone else is liable to have tried challenging him before you, so you might learn a little, and as you've been training stamina, if his reflexes slow down from getting tired, you may get an edge. That said, you may want to challenge him in the morning, too, just to experience what he's like when he's fully rested and ready for you.

Hydril seems oddly off-hand for someone with a reputation for being a hardass on certain people. We're given free reign to train ourselves, using him or his knights. That's definitely something we should take advantage of though, and it necessitates asking the right questions and training the right things with the right trainers, both for facing Hydril's challenge and for facing the enemy below.

>Questions for Hydril

"Are there any typical disqualifying moves, or is a simple hit with a training weapon all that is required?"

"What areas of training should I focus on for this challenge?"

"Who here should I be training with to get the best training available for those areas?"

"Is there anything else I should also be training at to become better at fighting undead, wizards and necromancers?"

>How to train

See the answers to the above questions and defer to them if they aren't useless. You could also consider training teamwork - it may not be that important for this week, but it'll help for later, so consider teaming up with Firzel, Dame Frais and Aira for the duration of your training. Sharing lessons and realizations, tips and tricks, can help the teachings sink in faster and more thoroughly.
>>
No. 885075 ID: bfb318
File 152675076929.png - (30.58KB , 1000x800 , 1073.png )
885075

I'm torn between wanting to step forward and try first, but I have questions first anyway.

"How many attempts do we get per day?"
>"As many as you like."
"And if we strike you at the same time as you strike us?"
>"Then you pass. This is no duel. If I strike you, I will say 'stop' to end the attempt. If you haven't struck me by the time I finish saying stop, the attempt fails."
"Under what circumstances would you deny us an attempt?"
>"No relevant circumstances. The point of me stating that I accept is not because I would deny an attempt, but so that I am prepared. This week is not training for overpowering someone with numbers, or surprise attacks, or any such nonsense. That is for next week, if anyone passes."

Someone steps forward as he finishes talking.

>"I'd like an attempt." says the draconic. "Will you be supplying us with training weapons?"
>"Yes." says Hydril, who looks to the side. A pawn steps forward to hand the draconic a training sword to use, and takes the draconics real sword. The training weapon looks like rigid straw tied together.
>"Any strike at all, even grazing ones?"
>"Yes. Melee strikes are also acceptable, but those must land squarely. I won't pass someone just because their finger brushed across me."
>>
No. 885076 ID: bfb318
File 152675078785.png - (28.06KB , 1000x800 , 1074.png )
885076

Hydril pulls his own sword out, which is the same, although his sword is longer. He moves into a stance.

>"I accept your attempt."

The draconic is in a similar stance, and starts moving forward.
>>
No. 885078 ID: bfb318
File 152675088231.png - (34.73KB , 800x800 , 1075.png )
885078

Hydril barely pulls his sword back to start a swing, but he snaps it down on the draconic so hard that his own training sword breaks.

>"Stop."
>>
No. 885080 ID: bfb318
File 152675092528.png - (14.48KB , 800x800 , 1076.png )
885080

The draconic crumples to the ground. Hydril's strike knocked him out. This must be why unlimited attempts are available.

>"Take him to the medical ward." says Hydril, while a pawn brings him a new training sword and another takes the broken one away. "We have a wizard on standby that will heal people quickly, but don't think broken arms or skulls will be repaired anytime soon. You're not pawns. You have to at least be able to take hits already. Other than walking through that exit that you all just came into, you may wander freely through this wing. I will also spar freely with any of you over the course of this week, where I will offer advice and gentler strikes. If I am preoccupied, you may spar with any of my lesser knights, and of course each other, as teamwork and planning is encouraged even if your test is a one on one fight. We will offer guidance on how best to land a strike on me. Would anyone else like to make an attempt?"

Hydril's strength looks like it's his physical ability. His technique isn't extraordinary, but it is simple and effective. He swung the instant the draconic was in range, and still looked like he was ready to jump in any direction if the draconic dodged or blocked. He doesn't seem unbeatable, but my chances of passing right now seem slim.

>"What are you?" one of the kobolds asks.
>"An abomination. Nearly all of the tar shaped kobolds are multi-legged spiked monstrosities. My status as an exception can be owed to equal parts luck and wizardry.
>>
No. 885082 ID: 86eb65

Strength does not equal speed. But this guy seems very fast.

I would try once. Until you witness it with your own body you don't have a accurate measurement. Cause lets be fair you have been stronger and faster than most people you meet. And the guy that just got knocked out could be weak.

Even if you do hit him today you would still train your ass off for this next week to get better and better.
>>
No. 885083 ID: deec6e

>>885078

Ouch, hardly even swung it.

See previous statement on only attempting to duel him at the end of the day, although with less hope that he'll be tired out and more belief that we'll need the recovery time. Append with there being no shame in retreating if you don't feel you can get a clean blow in or avoid return strikes. Avoiding his retaliation is doubly important now that he's displayed just quite how well he can retaliate. We want to remain functional so we can continue training and not spend days recovering.

Repeat my earlier questions re: what to train and who to train with for more efficient trainage.
>>
No. 885085 ID: b1b4f3

>>885080
>sparring is gentler strikes
Well that's a relief.

Okay, the first week is one-on-one, but next week is teamwork. That means it's to our best interest to get other people fast enough to pass this test. Make no mistake, this test is about speed.
Suggest the other knights work out a rotation for sparring with Hydril, so everyone gets a chance to do so regularly. Draw straws for who goes first, second, etc.

I wonder if you're allowed to use two swords?
>>
No. 885091 ID: ee2d6e

The classic method would otherwise be knife and sword, as a second sword could easily interfere in manoeuvring the first around. With Hydril's strength, using both to parry the blow would be preferable before attacking with one blade and controlling Hydril's with the other. If possible, that's the technique you should practice.
>>
No. 885092 ID: 0c3c2c

>>885080
I knew it! He's a really cool abomination.

Prepare for an attempt. Be prepared to suffer a hit, but try to parry.

Also, ask him if he's related to Cheese. Abominations aren't exactly common.
>>
No. 885094 ID: eeb7d9

>>885085
Fen doesn't use two swords. He could try to learn, but that will take to much time, i think. However, learning to use a paring dagger could be very useful. This could allows him to use a small shield attached to the arm as well. Just like he usually does. It would depend if he can wield his regular sword with just one hand.
>>
No. 885095 ID: b59fad

To beat this guy, I think you will have to learn how to anticipate actions. While you're training, pay attention and try to gain knowledge of what the possible responses to various attacks are and how to respond to them in turn. There'll probably be a big line clamoring for his personal attention, but see if you can manage to get in. The people who are already grand knights wanting to brush up will probably get first dibs, though.

Another note on how to possibly beat him: he's using a very long sword, and his limbs are long as well. That means he has a great range - he can hit you long before you can hit him - but it opens up holes in his ability to defend himself, especially at closer range, since having longer limbs/weapon means his minimum distance motions have to cover a wider area. The key to hitting him would be to get in very close to him very quickly. You'd just need to be able to avoid the strike he'll get the chance for as you do. Of course, he's probably trained to compensate for such weaknesses, but that doesn't mean they don't exist any more. For example, he can tighten his defense by moving his hands up to grip the blade, but that limits him in other ways.

The reason you're here is to get the experience you need to make these judgement calls and use them. Conditioning would be nice as well, of course.
>>
No. 885098 ID: b59fad

If you do want to make an attempt now - I don't recommend it, but if you do - I'd suggest moving one hand up at the last moment to grip the back of the blade nearer the top, and use it as if it were a staff while you charge in. That'll make it easier to maneuver and sturdier against whatever strike he tries to make, which you'll be trying to catch. Once you make contact with his sword, then, you'd slide down inside it and strike when you get close. But he'll probably knee or elbow you or something. If you can maneuver your arm right, you could try elbow up underneath his grip on his sword to knock it up, and swing your sword down to simultaneously strike his leg with your hilt if he tries to knee you and bring the tip of your sword closer to him, for the thrust or slice.

He could also see all this coming and just dodge and then strike, of course. There are tons of things he could do.
>>
No. 885110 ID: 10c408

Geeze. He's got range, strength and size on his side. You'd probably have to practice at predicting his strikes and dodges and then out-smart him to even get one hit in.

So that's what you'll likely have to practice. Sheer, refined technique is the only way you'll be get a strike in before the week is over.
>>
No. 885112 ID: f3fe9b

Ask for training, not an attempt.
>>
No. 885120 ID: deec6e

Let's not mention Cheese for now, and certainly not in front of witnesses - we can ask later in a more private setting, especially if we manage to build a rapport. A letter could also be sent to Cheese asking about him if we feel it's worth it. He must be notable in Erja Nokol, considering he's a knight, an abomination and a relative of the mythril noble.

>>885098

You could also try to go for a surprise bite attack, rather than try to use knees and elbows to get your hit. It'll probably count. Or rather, perhaps you can use your fame as the Red Maw by acting as if you are trying to bite him, but make it a tempting feint - cracking skulls seems to be a go-to move of his.

If you challenge him, move in hunched forward, block his first strike with a double-handed held sword as suggested above, then act as if you're going for a bite (opening your mouth, showing teeth), but snap back and instead kick out with your leg against his knee. It'll probably be like kicking a brick, so don't hit your toes - hit with the heel. If you end up splayed on the floor, that's fine, but ideally, you should be able to recover after the kick - and if he stumbles, follow up with a strike to his torso. Hold back only when he says 'Stop' to make sure you've gotten a proper-counting hit.

Again though, if you fight him, get at least a day's worth of training out of it first, since you risk getting KO'd or worse. At least you can use the nighttime as recovery time, although maybe not challenge him RIGHT before the day is over. Wizards have to sleep too.

Ultimately, you'll have to weigh risking the gains you'd get from training against securing an early 'course pass' for yourself. Beating this test on day one would add to your fame and MIGHT get him to put more time aside to train someone who's shown potential, since that seems to be the way the Empire does it... but failure and an extended recovery would suck. You're also a part of a team, and team training for next week means the rest of your team has to pass the test as well.
>>
No. 885124 ID: 7c90bc

We should definitely make an attempt. Assume he's going to do the same thing he did to the first guy, plan to knock his blow away with a swing of your own and come in with a kick or leg sweep. You don't necessarily have to hit him with your sword, and you are going to need your sword to stop him from hitting you.
>>
No. 885132 ID: bb78f2

>>885080
Hydril isn't a food as far as I know. Is he not from around here or a part of the abomination family?

Is... is his real name Water?
>>
No. 885134 ID: 91ee5f

>>885092
>ask if he’s related to Cheese
Don’t be racist. Not all mutants are related to each other.
>>
No. 885160 ID: 3abd97

>I will also spar freely with any of you over the course of this week, where I will offer advice and gentler strikes
We probably want to see if we can take advantage of that before we immediately go and get smacked down. Throwing ourself at Hydril carelessly and spending all week in bed between attempts doesn't sound productive.

>>ask if he’s related to Cheese
Don't ask him personal questions in front of the group.

>You could also try to go for a surprise bite attack
With Fen's reputation, I don't think that would be so much of a surprise.

>>885069
>Mutants aren't all cave kobolds.
Never said they were!
>>
No. 885166 ID: 15a025

Making a first attempt now will probably result in a swift failure, but, it'll give you a good way to measure your progress down here.

If you don't feel like making an attempt, ask if you can warm up with a sparring match against one of the lesser knights.
>>
No. 885272 ID: c0641d

If we do make an attempt, 1: Are we wearing underwear, and if so, 2: Can we loosen our cloak to make it throwable? With it, we can block his line of sight for a split second, throw our weapon high and to one side as misdirection, and go low and to the opposite side ourselves, going for a punch to the side or armpit.
>>
No. 885279 ID: 91ee5f

>>885075
>If you haven't struck me by the time I finish saying stop, the attempt fails.
So even if he hits Fen, as long as Fen can hit him before he finishes saying the word “stop”, then Fen can still pass.

>>885078
>Hydril barely pulls his sword back to start a swing
I wonder if anyone else noticed that or if Fen was the only one that saw that?

Because if anyone can see that, then it’ll help predict how he’s going to strike. But unless someone is able to react fast enough block/parry/dodge the attack, being able to see the attack coming is kinda pointless.

>>885080
>I will also spar freely with any of you over the course of this week, where I will offer advice and gentler strikes. If I am preoccupied, you may spar with any of my lesser knights, and of course each other, as teamwork and planning is encouraged even if your test is a one on one fight. We will offer guidance on how best to land a strike on me.
Obviously, the best way to learn how to strike Sir Hydril would be to spar with him. However, there’s a catch to getting advice from Sir Hydril. If he gives you advice on how to hit him, he’ll be expecting you to do whatever it is he tells you and he’ll be prepared for it. Which makes getting advice from Sir Hydril kinda like a double edged sword, it can help and not help.
>>
No. 885361 ID: 9581c5

>>885080
With the kind of strength this guy has, I would say we should try to work on counters. Remember how that field Kobold fought when you were back home? That kind style would be quite useful in this situation.
When facing an opponent who uses overwhelming strength, the trick is usually to have them direct that strength into all the wrong places. Feints, counters, distractions, anything that makes them hit something that isn’t you.
>>
No. 885362 ID: 094652

>>885279
Alternatively, you could ask about one fighting style and Aria could use it, and vice versa. Is his tactical speed as good as his reaction time, or will he cave in under a string of randomized combos?
>>
No. 885372 ID: 56abba

Ask a pawn to get your Kimankara set. Practice strategy between sparring sessions. See if you can get both a sparring session and a game out of Hydril, and pay equal attention to his reactions and mana if you can.
With his reach and speed you'll probably need to prevent him being a step ahead of you or he'll just throw a second counter into any dodge you make.
>>
No. 885913 ID: bfb318
File 152720499424.png - (23.78KB , 800x800 , 1077.png )
885913

I will make an attempt later.

"Can we use multiple weapons?" I ask, instead of any offchance he would know Cheese.
>"So long as they are training weapons, you may use as many as you want."
>"Spar with me, please!" one kobold blurts out immediately.
>"Okay. You have 10 minutes, Barm, my pawn, will give everyone else a stone with a random number on it. When your number is called, spar with me. If you fail to show within 60 seconds, you will miss your chance. Return your stone to Barm if you don't want to spar. This method is to allow people to spar with me without wasting time waiting in line."

While I wait to get a number, I ask a pawn to fetch my kimankara set, but I'm told that there are already sets within this wing I can use if I find appropriate times to do so.

I pull out number 6 from Barm's bag of numbered rocks. The next in my group is number 14, but I still should have about one hour to either explore, watch people spar with Hydril, or if I'm quick to approach one before they get busy, spar with one of Hydril's lesser knights.

I also notice that various knight teams are huddling together discussing possible tactics to get a hit on Hydril. Some talk about specific tactics, but some are talking about getting everyone to try to make Hydril exhaust himself to slow him down.
>>
No. 885914 ID: b1b4f3

Go explore a bit and come back in time to watch someone spar with Hydril.
>>
No. 885915 ID: a363ac

>>885913
spar with a lesser knight until you can reliably defeat them
>>
No. 885916 ID: 0c3c2c

>>885913
Ask to spar with Barm to warm up. He looks really hardy, and he watches his knight spar all day so he's probably picked up some knowledge of how he fights.
>>
No. 885919 ID: b59fad

Don't explore for now, there might still be people in here who'd like to try murder you, so stay where the instructors are. Later, once everyone's tired and will be more likely to think they should put any plans to murder you off for later, you can explore.

For now, find one of the instructors to spar with so that you can get a start on having the most obvious things cleared. Then Hydril won't have to waste your precious time with him going over stuff that someone of a lower skill level could teach you. You want to maximize the time you get with him! If they don't fill up the whole time you have to wait, spend the time until your session with Hydril practicing what they tell you. If you can't get one at all, watch Hydril's sessions and see if you can learn from them. There'll probably be some repetition with each person he works with, so see if you can spend some of the time practicing whatever you observe.

When time is getting up - 10 minutes or so before your turn - do some warmups. If you did get a training session in before then, have a bit of a rest but don't let yourself completely cool down.

Stay close enough to hear the numbers! If someone before you misses their turn, the whole schedule will slide up by 9 minutes.
>>
No. 885922 ID: 86eb65

If we cant beat his challenge when he is at top form we don't want to. If you can not take out this guy what chance do you have against real monsters?

I would respectfully ask for a spar with a lesser knight under him. Get some pointers and find out what you are lacking. Then when you go for your attempt with the big guy you will at least have some practice.

As for watching the big guy fight? I am guessing all you will see is people getting smacked quick.
>>
No. 885923 ID: 7fad5d

Yeah, let's ask if Barm's willing to spar.
>>
No. 885927 ID: deec6e

>>Strategies for tiring him out

If he isn't as tireless as he's strong, this could be something to consider later on if any on our team struggles or is given early match-ups. Just helping them train to get better is still preferable.

You should always, whatever number you're given, be giving these training sessions your all and thinking of tactics to defeat him when he's not only weakened, but at his best.

>>885919

This, absolutely. Good approach all around.

I'm trying to come up with a way to use the rock itself, since it's technically/arguably a weapon that's been handed out to us, but all I get are silly ideas about maybe smuggling it in in Fen's mouth and getting hold of the #9 training stone to turn in instead to make Hydril think we've given it up, then challenge him and during the match surprise-throw it at him. Probably needlessly complicated and underhanded, but we can revisit the idea later if beating Hydril turns out to be real hard.

And really, everyone probably needs every training session they can get with him in order to have a chance at winning. Heck, you should probably be looking about to ensure no-one's giving up or trading away their stones willy-nilly. Certainly no-one on your team should be.
>>
No. 885930 ID: b1b4f3

>>885927
The rocks aren't training weapons.
>>
No. 885933 ID: 3abd97

>>885913
I'd say either watching the sparring or grabbing someone else to spar would be the best use of your time, for now.

You can compare notes with Aira later, maybe. For now you're better off split up, since you've already sparred together a bunch.
>>
No. 885943 ID: b59fad

I don't think you're supposed to try spar with Barm, he's a pawn and you're supposed to be learning from the knights. At least ask him how long he's been working with Hydril first, he might have just been picked up recently.
>>
No. 885945 ID: deec6e

>>885930
>>885937

>rock not training weapon

Yeah, it was a silly thought. Hydril's already said surprise attacks wasn't part of the purpose of this training, so unless that is a bluff (I am ever Cheese-like in my attempts to overthink these situations) we're probably good doing regular ol' training.

I'll maintain that the rocks could be argued to be thought of as a training weapon, at least by a barbarian (chucking rocks is a very barbarian thing to do, right?) - and really, throwing rocks can still be effective in battle if you've got nothing else to work with or need a quick and dirty ranged option. That said, the training hall of an elite badass is probably not the right place to argue that case, or, for that matter, prove it. If playing David to Hydril's Goliath might, say, get a Mithril noble annoyed with us... yeah no, dropping that idea.
>>
No. 885946 ID: 91ee5f

>>885913
Let’s ask one of the lesser knights if they’d be willing to spar with you.

>>885919
This all sounds good.

After Fen’s turn of sparring with Hydril, let’s take a break somewhere nearby and watch others spar with and/or challenge Hydril.

And after everyone from our group, which would be everyone from Sir Orjin’s squad, has taken a turn, we should all group together and share our experiences of sparring Hydril with each other to see if we can all come up with a strategy.

>>885927
The rocks are not training weapons.
>>
No. 885975 ID: e1c8f7

>>885913
Warm up with a fellow knight real quick.
>>
No. 886053 ID: 6ee5db

>>885913
Probably best to see if you can spar with a knight, and maybe see if they have any ideas on how to beat Hydril.
>>
No. 886363 ID: 15a025

A thought for later. Once things start winding down for the night, see if you can't convince Hydril to play a round of kimankara with you.

For now, see if you can't spar with one of the knights for a bit.
>>
No. 886493 ID: bfb318
File 152745139019.png - (24.03KB , 1200x600 , 1078.png )
886493

I approach a kobold with the intention to spar for the time being.

"Hello, you are one of Sir Hydril's lesser knights?"
>"I am, and my name is Sir Unon. Do you want to spar?"
"Yes."

He walks to the side and beckons me over to a wider corner. I can still hear numbers being called out from here, so I can pay attention to make sure I don't miss my chance with Hydril.

Unon pulls out a long staff, and he tosses me a two handed training weapon.

>"To emulate Sir Hydril's range, I should use a longer weapon than you."

We get into position. He almost looks nervous and excited about sparring. Perhaps he is new to Sir Hydril.

>"When you're ready, let me see how you approach."
>>
No. 886496 ID: 86eb65

Move directly at him using your weapon to guide his sword away from your body.

With swords this long use the flat of yours to keep his to one side of you.

If he pulls back and thrusts at you use that moment to shove your blade forward into his body. If he swings out and to your side it will give you time to move into his strike and catch his weapon near the hilt.

Moving close to him causes him to loose leverage with his weapon. Sure he can punch or hit you but it makes the weapon hard to use.
>>
No. 886498 ID: 0c3c2c

>>886493
Hmmmm. Try locking down his weapon if possible, with a grab or parry, then move inside his reach and bite him. Gently.
>>
No. 886499 ID: e1c8f7

>>886493
See if you can make a safe approach by knocking his weapon away for long enough to get yourself in range.
>>
No. 886500 ID: f3fe9b

Knock his weapon and/or block to your left so he can't just swing the back end of the staff across his front, get in real close real fast. If he spins the other direction, do some tricky dodging while he isn't looking so you can be somewhere unexpected once he's facing you again.
>>
No. 886502 ID: 3abd97

Hmm. Maybe the best approach is baiting him into making the first move, so you can block and move closer, inside his guard at the same time?

I doubt that will work as well against Hydril, though. Blocking his hit will probably stagger you, and he's still free to lash out with a han or a foot if you get inside the reach of his sword.

That said, for this challenge, you just need to get the first hit in, even if it leaves you in a bad position, or open to retaliation in a real fight. Remember the lesson that kobolds with a mortal injury don't always go down immediately.
>>
No. 886503 ID: e5c658

>>886493
Introduce yourself before you start smacking him, dork.
>>
No. 886504 ID: ee2d6e

You can't block a staff with a sword. Too much leverage and weight means he can just crush right through it, which seems like it'd be the case with Hydril's strength as well. Parrying and deflecting is the only way.
>>
No. 886505 ID: eeb7d9

I know we are just practicing, but if we manage to beat this challenge with out getting hit, it will mean that we are in the right way for a real fight. Fen is always in dangerous situations where a wrong move can kill him, almost in disadvantage.
Remember that encounter with the mountain kobold when he was chasing Cheese. It didn't kill him, sure, but it leave him unable to fight for a while. He can't take those risks anymore. Especially here, where the poisoning is commun.
If he learns how to avoid unnesessary damage early on, it will benefit him in the long run. Besides, it will be good for his reputation too.
I think Fen should limit Unon movement by clousing the gap betwin them. I like the idea of a bait attack, to make him engage first and parry him or avoid him.
>>
No. 886506 ID: 53db13

>>886493
I’d say the best you can do is bait them to move first and see if you can counter their attack. Usually, a longer reach means it is harder to stop attacking than it is to start.
>>
No. 886507 ID: eeb7d9

I know we are just practicing, but if we manage to beat this challenge with out getting hit, it will mean that we are in the right way for a real fight. Fen is always in dangerous situations where a wrong move can kill him, almost in disadvantage.
Remember that encounter with the mountain kobold when he was chasing Cheese. It didn't kill him, sure, but it leave him unable to fight for a while. He can't take those risks anymore. Especially here, where the poisoning is commun.
If he learns how to avoid unnesessary damage early on, it will benefit him in the long run. Besides, it will be good for his reputation too.
I think Fen should limit Unon movement by closing the gap between them. I like the idea of a bait attack, to make him engage first and parry him or avoid him.
>>
No. 886510 ID: b59fad

>He almost looks nervous and excited about sparring. Perhaps he is new to Sir Hydril.

Maybe he's heard of you.

Move in fast, bait out a strike from him, block his weapon out of the way, slide down its length and strike him while watching out for unarmed strikes.
>>
No. 886511 ID: 91ee5f

>>886510
>slide down its length and strike him while watching out for unarmed strikes.
Now when you say that, do you intend for Fen to slide his weapon down the length of Unon‘s weapon in order to strike his hand? Because that would actually work, since Unon‘s weapon doesn’t have a hand guard to stop Fen’s strike from reaching Unon’s hand.
>>
No. 886513 ID: eeb7d9

>>886511
That is actually good. And even if he had a hand guard, he would be left open for an attack, or at least he would have to get away from Fen since he is too close to strike him with that long weapon. If he does, Fen can keep rushing him until he loses his balance.
>>
No. 886515 ID: a363ac

>>886502
keep this in mind and go for it
>>
No. 886516 ID: b59fad

>>886511
If Fen's fast enough, he can do both. Slap the hand to distract him with the lower end of the blade then slip the upper end forward for a throat slash.

However, keep in mind this guy's using a staff. Unless Fen blocks it on the outside (that is, pushing the whole length of the staff to one side of himself), it'd be very easy for the guy to just switch over to a strike with the other end or the middle. In fact, Fen is at a pretty serious disadvantage here. All else being equal, with enough space to maneuver, someone using a staff will usually win against someone with a sword. It's too easy to cover all the angles and make counter-attacks quickly.

If he can't manage an outside strike, he could try make the guy strike his sword, then swing up quickly and use his crossguard to push it up and over the other side. Then Fen could grab the staff with one hand and strike with the sword one-handed, or keep his sword on the staff and move in to give this guy a hard elbow strike.
>>
No. 886520 ID: 53c12f

Don’t forget Hydril’s ridiculous strength. That staff is supposed to be emulating blows that are probably half again or more as powerful as this guy is able to put into them. Train with how to deal with that added strength and speed in mind.
>>
No. 886531 ID: a62780

>>886520
You've hit the nail on the head there, we're not sparring to get a feel for defeating a stave wielder, we're trying to train to hit Hydril. Who will be using a regular sword, is much faster and is stronger than this guy.
>>
No. 886537 ID: eeb7d9

>>886531
Union should be using the staff as a sword and nothing more then.
>>
No. 886544 ID: b59fad

>>886531
>we're not sparring to get a feel for defeating a stave wielder, we're trying to train to hit Hydril.

But we're training to hit Hydril as a means to train to get better at combat in general. Focusing too much on beating Hydril isn't going to achieve that. Besides, for all we know Hydril will switch what weapon he's using tomorrow. It'd honestly be a good idea for him, to trip up people who thought they got all the answers watching him today.

You never know, we might fight an undead with a staff at some point, or if not an undead than some future opponent. Fighting against a staff is good practice for fighting against a polearm, too, and those are probably very common.
>>
No. 886808 ID: bfb318
File 152762845193.png - (17.13KB , 800x800 , 1079.png )
886808

I move in to bait a strike, and it works. He swings down hard enough that I have to parry equally hard, as a still block would break my guard. However, despite that his grip is closer to the back of the staff, he quickly sidesteps in, rotating the staff around while pushing my sword into me to prevent me from letting me sword leave me.

Instead, I just move my sword down the staff and hit his hands, since it has no hilt.

>"Ack." he says. "Right, shortcoming of the staff. Want to keep practicing against me using a sword?"
"I'm attempting to spar with you to learn how to fight Sir Hydril, so I would like to learn how to block heavy strikes like what Hydril will use."
>"Yeah? That's a good idea, but I'd like to spar with you normally, another time."
"Yes. I am sparring with you to learn how to hit Sir Hydril, but I am learning how to hit Sir Hydril to increase my skills."
>>
No. 886809 ID: bfb318
File 152762863752.png - (31.14KB , 1000x800 , 1080.png )
886809

We take a step back again, and Unon pulls his hands to the back of the staff so that when he swings down, it has a ton of power in it.

I put in practice parrying extremely strong strikes while maintaining my guard, and simultaneously working towards a riposte if possible.

After a couple of people spar with Hydril, we hear some commotion.

Firzel comes up to us.

>"Haha did you see that?"
"No."
>"Dame Frais! She be - well, hit Hy - Sir Hydril between a sparring session."
>"Already?" asks Unon.
>"Yeah, she swung her blade up to block his strike, but it was a feint! That is, her block was a feint, because she just threw her sword at him!"
"And Sir Hydril's swing?"
>"Oh she just took it right to the face and got knocked out exactly like the first guy before she even saw her sword hit him. But he didn't call 'stop' in time! So he says she passed."
"From the sounds of it, she makes it look easy."
>"Yeah! He's sparring with the next person now, but a lot of those guys are getting more confident in challenging him now."
>>
No. 886810 ID: b1b4f3

>>886809
Hydril is going to expect people to copy that move. I'm surprised he didn't just dodge the sword, as he seemed ready to dodge at any point.

Also it's better not to get knocked out.
...wait a minute, if he's been breaking his sword by striking that hard... parrying the blow will break your weapon too. Maybe the optimal strategy is to tank the hit with your body instead of your head so you don't get knocked out, and then hit him while he's disarmed.
>>
No. 886811 ID: a62780

>>886809
That sounds about right, the exercise seems to be about securing a hit on a superior foe that knows you're coming.

>>886809
I think you're on to something, though maybe letting it hit an arm instead of a vital area is better. Fen could try using the forearm of his offhand to absorb the hit and secure a hit on Hydril in return. I figure It's roughly how he'd go about it when using a shield.
>>
No. 886814 ID: f3fe9b

Damn, I don't think that trick will work twice. We'll need to think of something else. Good thing we have plenty of time.
>>
No. 886818 ID: 86eb65

You know what would work really well? Training to be good enough to beat him in combat straight out.

Because we had to run from Garlic last time. Next time we might not be able to run and learning to take out big abominations with swords would be really handy. Getting knocked out and having a technical victory does work but this is good quality training time.

Oh one trick you might want to try that is not throwing a weapon. When you are armored up you can use your sword like a staff. The blade can not cut through your gauntlets (if its not magic at least) so you can grab the end and use it two handed to block heavy blows.

I would go for speed above all else. You are very fast Fen and if you can knock his first blow to the side and get in his reach fast you have a good chance of hitting him. But will have to practice and find out.
>>
No. 886819 ID: ee2d6e

Well in that case, if you're willing to let your arm get fucked up, you can try lunging at him while blocking with your arm. It'll hurt, but you'll hopefully not pass out.
>>
No. 886820 ID: b59fad

Save beating him with cheap tricks or desperation moves until nearer the deadline. Until then, train to try defeat him legitimately, i.e. actually being able to see and react to his attacks.
>>
No. 886821 ID: 3abd97

>Dame Frais exploited the rules to get a hit in even though it knocked her out.
Clever, and determined enough to pull it off. Not a very useful tactic in most real fights, but she did exactly what she needed to do to pass the test.

We should congratulate her on her successful gambit next time we see her awake.

>"Yeah! He's sparring with the next person now, but a lot of those guys are getting more confident in challenging him now."
Hmmm. I suspect Sir Hydil is going to make short work of many of the overconfident. Dame Frais made a clever play, but he'll be wise to that trick now.
>>
No. 886824 ID: eeb7d9

And what if Fen blocks his attack with the part of the arm he uses his shield?
Obviously, he doesn't have the shield, but we can imagine that he is blocking it with it. It wouldn't be a hit, but a block. We could attack Hydril and "block" his. Win-win.
But, the problem is if Fen is fast enough to hit him before he says "stop".

If we can't pull this off, Fen needs to keep practicing his dodging and bloking. I am going to insist, we should focus on not getting hit. This is a perfect oportunity for this.
>>
No. 886841 ID: 7c90bc

We should keep practicing until our turn for a sparring session with Hydril comes up. After that we'll maybe challenge him.
>>
No. 886848 ID: 0c3c2c

>>886809
Hmmmm. Maybe he let her hit him, or maybe he's not as good as he thinks he is. Still. Let's continue chatting with the good lesser knight as we spar with him.
>>
No. 886849 ID: 56e50f

>>886809
No doubt he's going to punish that confidence. Stay on task and don't be afraid to switch up styles.
>>
No. 886857 ID: c0641d

We should save the tactics for when we actually want to challenge him, which probably shouldn’t happen today... That is, unless we get to go down to the necromile in the interim, in which case time may be of the essence; fate is probably coming to an end soon for several people down there, including Valsano.
>>
No. 886875 ID: 91ee5f

>>886809
Let’s ask Unon if he has any advice or if there’s anything he thinks Fen should work on improving to increase his chances of striking Sir Hydril on a serious attempt?

>Suggestions of Fen using his arm to block the attack.
That is a stupid idea!

With how hard Sir Hydril is swinging, he’s gonna break Fen’s arm! Sure, we’ve got healers on standby, but they don’t heal instantly!

Remember Fen’s foot? That was just an arrow and Fen had to take it easy for a few days. Blocking one of Sir Hydril’s serious strikes will leave Fen’s arm broken for an entire week at minimum before he can move it again if we’re lucky, with the possibility of more than a week being the worst case scenario! And everyday Fen spends in recovery, is a day of training that he’s missing and not improving his skills!

So when Fen makes a serious attempt to strike Sir Hydril, he should not attempt to block Sir Hydril’s strike with his arm!
>>
No. 886881 ID: ae1644

See the problem with this is "oh congratulations you managed to bounce your thrown sword off your enemy while they cleaved your skull, you may be dead but at least you gave them a nasty flesh wound", if he's going to let similar strategies slide then all he's doing is giving them false confidence and bad strategies.
We don't need to learn to tank the hit we need to learn to not get hit in the first place, easier said then done. Though I suppose there's nothing wrong with learning how to not pass out or get too disoriented if you get hit in the head.
Maybe focus on improving our dodging?
>>
No. 886888 ID: caf1de

could we use his momentum against him
>>
No. 886916 ID: eeb7d9

>Maybe focus on improving our dodging?
I belive this is the main idea here. Yes, i said we could tank the hit, but i didn't said we should. I really think we should focus on our dodging, specialy since it doesn't seem posible to block the attack with the sword with out breaking it. He just hits very hard and the swords are really frigil.
>>
No. 886978 ID: 10c408

>>886819
>>886810
Yeah, that's a great idea. Instead of getting knocked the fuck out by Sir Hydril and losing precious time we should get something broken/bruised instead and waste even MORE time.

Keep sparring with the other lesser knights, focus on being fast enough and responsive enough to the point where you don't have to block.
>>
No. 886983 ID: a62780

>>886978
yeah that's the ideal situation, but I think it'd take longer than we have time to practice.

from the description, hydril is scarily fast, strong, has good reach and most importantly; had virtually no wind-up movement or time with which to discern his intended attack
>>
No. 886988 ID: eeb7d9

>>886983
Then we have to somehow mitigate the damage. If it is impossible for Fen to ignore the hit altogether, then we have to look for a way to reduce it as much as possible for him to be in fighting conditions.
But i think we should be able to pull it off. It might take a lot of days of the week but i still we should be able to pull it off. Fen does learn somehow fast when it comes to combat.
>>
No. 886989 ID: deec6e

>>886983

Hydril's not without flaws or quirks, he still has to think about what he's doing. For example, he seems to favor head blows where he can get them. That's two for two now who've challenged him and gotten KO'd (or, in combat, killed). He'll probably change up his style and close holes in his defense whenever someone takes advantage of a neat bit of trivia like that, though.

Exposing your head as a way to feint him is pretty risky, mind.

Tell Firzel thanks for the news. When you get time, check in on Dame Frais - was there any special tactic to getting a hit in early? She's never struck me as the reckless type, so it might've been some manner of pragmatic move. Otherwise, continue training with Sir Unon until it's your turn to spar with Hydril.
>>
No. 887036 ID: 41315e

>>886916

Dodging is fine, deflecting is, too. It's a kind of parry where you'll let the opponent's weapon glide along your blade, without trying to stop it, merely to avoid it harming you.

The training weapons tend to break under the force when trying to block hits, because they take the full force at once. When trying to deflect a blow, you only take part of that force on the weapon, the rest staying in the opponent's weapon (which is why it continues moving, slightly deflected, instead of stopping dead on impact).

In fact, deflecting the blow with the "blade", and then closing in to hit with the hilt should be very doable, especially if Sir Hydril doesn't expect it (at least, not from a pupil).
>>
No. 887050 ID: bfb318
File 152779002893.png - (24.97KB , 800x800 , 1081.png )
887050

"Do you have any advice for me?"
>"Blocking heavy strikes is good." Unon explains. "Unless you want to rely on cheap tricks - which is fine - you'll have to be able to block them. Sir Hydril is good at holding back his strikes at the last second, too, so it'll be tough to break his own sword on your parry or anything like that."
"How weak are these swords?" asks Aira, who approaches.
>"They're made so that they don't do serious damage or anything. They'll break off before they break a bone. Usually."
>"Uh, not like I'd take this up with Sir Hydril, but it kinda seems like bad combat practice to just do those cheap tricks." Firzel says to Unon.
>"I guess. The thing is... Sir Hydril doesn't have a whole lot of faith in you guys. The whole point is so that you'll at least be able to do some harm to an abomination so your teammates can finish it off."
>"Most of us are a little more ambitious."

We see Sir Hydril get challenged by the person he spars with. He accepts.

It looks like it's a repeat of what Frais did. The kobold throws the sword just as they get knocked out. Hydril destroys his third sword in half an hour.

The difference, this time, is that he catches the kobold's thrown sword by the hilt effortlessly.
>>
No. 887052 ID: bfb318
File 152779015956.png - (19.91KB , 800x800 , 1082.png )
887052

The time passes as Unon and I spar, but in the interest of fairness as various other people want to spar with the lesser knights, Unon starts sparring with other people.

A few more people make attempts on Hydril at the end of their sparring session. Every one of them fails. A couple do manage to prevent getting knocked out, but they don't make another attempt.

Frais comes back and gathers us together.

>"Fen, you're the only one of us that can pass this test using purely physical techniques." says Frais to Aira and Firzel.
>"What's that supposed to mean?" Firzel asks.
>"Aira has too slow of a reaction speed. You, Firzel, are just... oh, how do I put this..."
>"A combat idiot?"
>"Or at least not smart enough to get by on that."
>"You seemed to do just fine with a cheap trick."
>"No, I did just find masking my mana in Erja Nokol's environment. He can see me just fine even though I think he might be blind, but I was able to keep him from sensing what I was going to do. That, combined with a cheap trick, is how I won."
>"Well, I can sense his mana pretty well, so I have that premonition too. I'm not as fast as Fen, but I'll be able to react faster to get a headstart."
>"Correct. You'll have a tough time of it, but if you don't overthink it and just focus on connecting a hit, you'll do fine. As for Aira..."

Aira has a blank look.

>"You're an intelligent fighter, but that's the weakest strength here. Fen, you might be able to win without any cheap tricks or traded blows, but don't try it for long. I've seen teachers like this before. Sir Hydril isn't spending this first week training us, he's spending it to thin the crowd so he can focus on a smaller class. I'd suggest not sparring with Hydril until after you pass, because it's going to teach him more about failing you, than teaching you how to pass against him."
>"Kinda feels like bullshit." says Firzel.
>"And your feelings are irrelevant to how things are."

Ideally I can beat Sir Hydril without any tricks. I have plenty of ideas for attempts I've thought of.
>>
No. 887053 ID: 5f3f48

>"I guess. The thing is... Sir Hydril doesn't have a whole lot of faith in you guys. The whole point is so that you'll at least be able to do some harm to an abomination so your teammates can finish it off."
That would explain why this training differs so much what we would normally consider good sense.

>Sir Hydril isn't spending this first week training us, he's spending it to thin the crowd so he can focus on a smaller class.
Makes sense, in a certain ruthless kind of way.

>combat smarts versus strength versus speed versus clever tricks
Ultimately, it doesn't matter how any of us pass the trial, so long as we do. There's no points for style.
>>
No. 887054 ID: b1b4f3

>>887050
Yeah I didn't expect that to work again.

>>887052
Ah, so there was a REASON it worked when Frais tried it.
...hang on. The lesser knight Fen sparred with had a staff. Maybe Aira could use a long weapon like that to leverage her intelligence? Or maybe Aira can spend time here learning to mask her mana, so that she can do something similar to what Frais did? ...heyyy, if Hydril is blind, he can't tell what weapon the opponent is using. Aira could take a stance that implies she's using a different weapon, then surprise him.

Heck, Fen could stand to learn how to mask his mana as well.
>>
No. 887055 ID: b59fad

You need to git gud at all these things, Fen, so that should be your overall plan. Your attempt should be coming up soon, now, right? I'll recommend this tactic: >>885098 , since "get inside his guard to take advantage of his long limbs/weapon" is good advice for fighting monsters, too, and a surprising amount of kobolds don't seem to think to take advantage of their single-edged blades/scale-covered hands by gripping their sword anywhere but the hilt, so it might surprise him.

Since he favors downward strikes (and he basically has to, since you're all shorter than him), you could also try dropping down further than you normally would to give yourself an extra slice of a moment to block, though it'll mean putting a big strain on your leg muscles. Alternately, you might even try full-on dive-rolling between his spindly legs and swinging up at (just next to) his crotch or his legs.
>>
No. 887056 ID: f3fe9b

So you need two, maybe three stratagems- that's what we'll call dirty tricks because we're soldiers not bandits- between the lot of us, preferably ones that play to individual strengths, and we have a week to be creative with it.
>>
No. 887057 ID: 86eb65

Well a combo attack would work well.

Do you have any ability to mask or change your mana? Not just hiding it but possibly focusing hard on a spot you are not going to attack so he notices your intent through your mana and blocks in the wrong place? Feints are a big part of battle and if you could work that into your routine it would help.

Getting deep into his reach with your speed and causing his initial attack to slide off your weapon is a good idea. Can go in single handed and use your off hand to support the blade at a angle when he strikes.

The guy is huge and has crazy reach. In a normal fight getting close to him would just result in him trying to grapple you. But this is a sword duel. If you are up against his chest it would be very hard to swing at you with those giant arms of his.

The trick is getting there without getting hit. Then thumping him in the chest with your hilt or blade.
>>
No. 887058 ID: 0c3c2c

>>887052
Huh. We don't have to fight Hydril to pass? Let's just not then. We SHOULD ask Hydril if he can teach us any tricks to improving our mana-sense though. Slow and steady practice is excellent for long term gains, but we're literally in Erja Nokol, we could definitely use a speed-boost.
>>
No. 887066 ID: 0d45a9

Hm, so you're saying sparring will mean Hydril will learn more about us than we'll learn about them. We should learn more about how Hydril fights, maybe watch some attempts or sparring matches with Hydril closely, and try to pay attention to their mana?
>>
No. 887073 ID: eeb7d9

So it is a elimination week. That makes more sense.

>>887066
This sounds like a good idea. We can learn from him without him learning from us.
What is left for Fen to do is to keep practicing.

What about Fen experiences with abominations?
He has fought some already, and if a am not mistaken we manage knock one down. Plus, there were two of them, very fast and agile. Is there something we can use from that?

On another note, what about Aira?
Any ideas for her?
>>
No. 887074 ID: 91ee5f

>>887066
That sounds good, but it all depends on 1 important factor: Who’s next in line?

Because if Fen’s number is called next, then he won’t have time to study Sir Hydril!
>>
No. 887082 ID: eeb7d9

>>887074
That is an inconvenience. Maybe Fen can try fighting differently than we were planning. That way we won't have to show what we were going for until the time of the test. We talked about dodging, paring and blocking. Let's do the exact oposite in the sparring sesion. Then, in the real test, we change tactics and we surprise him.
>>
No. 887094 ID: f3fe9b

Are we sure he'll be trying to thin the herd all week? He said at the end of the week if you didn't make a hit, you fail the class.
>>
No. 887171 ID: a48264

Just grab all the weapons and chuck them all at once, one's bound to hit

You have an entire week, so spend a few more days watching and training. No sense in going in just to get knocked out of the picture for a few days or more.
>>
No. 887172 ID: a48264

>>887074
Read closely; holding a number is optional and he can decline upon being called.

Though that raises another point. He should turn in the ticket he grabbed if he's not planning to spar anytime soon.
>>
No. 887309 ID: 15a025

It might be best to just hold off your attempt to spar Hydril for now. If he is using mana sensing, we might want to spar with Dame Frais. She might be able to help us work on masking our own mana a bit.
>>
No. 887318 ID: bfb318
File 152799641277.png - (19.81KB , 800x800 , 1083.png )
887318

>Do you have any ability to mask or change your mana?
No. I've heard of this, but I've been focused on sensing it in others.

"Frais, do you not have any advice for Aira?"
>"I don't, sorry."
"What if she used a staff?"
>"Unless she's as good with a staff as she is with a sword... well, she should try with a sword first, then swap to a staff if it's too hard."
"Hydril can't sense weapons, could he?"
>"Maybe, maybe not. The training weapons are native material to Erja, so they could be like the air around it, mana wise. Remember that a weapon with no mana can be detected, not directly, but because wizards with honed senses can detect mana in the air itself. Which means that a dead weapon can be sensed as a hole around existing mana, like a void. Also, I could be wildly wrong about him being blind."
>"I'll attempt the test with a sword first." Aira says. "If he's too far out of my league, I'll practice with a staff if it looks like that will help."
"Hm... if I shouldn't spar with him..."
>"Wait." says Frais. "Just trade numbers with me. I'm number 14. I'll spar with him even though I passed, assuming he'll let me. You can study for a couple more hours."
"Okay."
>>
No. 887319 ID: bfb318
File 152799642042.png - (47.18KB , 800x800 , 1084.png )
887319

>Are we sure he'll be trying to thin the herd all week?
I suppose that if he wanted to allow a minimum number of students through, he could go easy on us when we make attempts.

I spend half of each sparring session meditating. Sir Hydril is an abomination, and those appear to be made of denser mana than regular kobolds. I can sense him better. I don't think I can anticipate his moves at all, but I still try since it seems like an invaluable and, well, a magical trait to have.

The other half is spent watching him, since I don't think I'll ever have the mana sense to be able to neglect eyesight, so I need to watch him normally as well.

Frais spars casually with Sir Hydril in my place. I watch carefully, since our fighting style has become similar. She asks him to strike hard so she can practice parrying, and he obliges. He does make it an intense sparring session, and does strike her repeatedly, but does hold his strikes back and doesn't hit her in the head so often. She is outmatched in normal combat, which seems to bolster's peoples desire to try near suicidal tactics to pass the test.

Then I continue with normal observation for a couple of hours.

>"Number 14!" Barm calls out. It's my turn.
>>
No. 887320 ID: bfb318
File 152799642951.png - (30.83KB , 800x800 , 1085.png )
887320

I head to Hydril.

>"Red Maw." he states bluntly. He also glares at me with more intent and focus than I've seen him with anyone else. "Approach me when and how you would like. You have as long as you like to spar, beginning now."

Some kobolds look around inquisitively at that. I almost do, too. What he said was almost exactly what he told everyone else so far, except he replaced '10 minutes' with 'as long as you like'.

If I do what Frais recommends, I'll just declare my attempt right now before sparring him.

If I do make an attempt, then most of my options fall under one kind of strategy.

One, I fight normally as I would against a real opponent, to win without getting struck myself.
Two, I fight with cheap tactics just to pass the test.
Three, I don't follow Frais' recommendation, and spar first.
>>
No. 887323 ID: e5c658

>>887320
Three, ask him to train your reflexes.
>>
No. 887330 ID: 3abd97

>>887320
One. If Frais is right, best move is to go for it now. Right or wrong, we can always train with him later.
>>
No. 887337 ID: b1b4f3

>>887320
>more intent and focus
It's like he expects you to be able to pass. His statement of letting you spar as long as you like is either to give him a better chance of keeping you from passing, or it's to let you learn more.

Go for it. Go big or go home. ONE.
Notably, he's got his sword much farther forwards than he did for the first challenge. This means he'll have to pull it back further to strike hard. It's a more defensive stance. That's good in a way, it means you have more time to anticipate a strike. Unfortunately it also means he's taking you seriously and will be difficult to hit.
>>
No. 887339 ID: f3fe9b

Oh goodie, you're being taken seriously.

We can always try cheap tricks later, go for 1 now. Unless you think you can weather the blows enough to get in close, try and hit his hands. They make a big enough target.
>>
No. 887340 ID: 10c408

Yeah, if we spar and then challenge him, he's going to get the better of us.

one. Do not let him get a strike in. If your weapon breaks, feint a desperation rush, throw your sword at him and then lunge to punch/kick him in the legs.
>>
No. 887344 ID: 7fad5d

>>887320
One is good, yeah.
>>
No. 887345 ID: 86eb65

Go for 1. Beat him and then train with him.
>>
No. 887346 ID: 61838d

One. If you lose, you can retry, and even spar with him if you wish to. If you win, afterwards you can spar as well.
>>
No. 887348 ID: 91ee5f

>>887320
>Some kobolds look around inquisitively at that. I almost do, too. What he said was almost exactly what he told everyone else so far, except he replaced '10 minutes' with 'as long as you like'.
He sees potential in you and believes you’re more skilled than everyone else.....annnd he might’ve heard about you and the things you’ve done. From you being the only one to enter and escape an anomaly alive and that report about the antlers you delivered, which resulted in a successful mission of obtaining them and bringing them back to base.

Soooo, yeah, he’s probably heard of you and is more willing to train you, since he apparently thinks you’ve got a better chance of success compared to everyone else.

And look at that look in his eyes, the ways he’s standing, even the way he’s holding his weapon. It’s almost like he’s expecting you to make an attempt instead of spar with him. In fact, it’s almost like he wants you to make an attempt against him.

If you get a chance later, you should see if he does this with anyone else.

>What do?
One

Declare that you’ve changed your mind about the sparring and wish to make an attempt against him.
>>
No. 887354 ID: deec6e

>>887320

One. If you can't beat him now, you will try and try again later.

>Red Maw, free training

By calling you out as "Red Maw" he either has a bone to pick with you, or he's acknowledging your reputation by giving you the privilege and responsibility of proving your mettle - maybe both. There could be an element of showmanship here, or professional pride - maybe he's looking to preserve or elevate his own standing and reputation by totally punking you, the resident Gold-Killing Anomaly Survivor. Or maybe he just doesn't like the way - or the fact - that you killed Rasyan, and is now picking on you as a result. Valsano called him a 'purist' of a soldier, a no-nonsense type who, it was implied, hates failures (like Valsano).

You've seen how he moves - for this match, double that in intensity, since he seems to be taking things more seriously now. Be ready to suddenly be the one doing all the dodging if he changes gear and attacks aggressively, which probably is his forté. Protect your head in particular. Keep moving so that he'll have to reposition himself to maintain the proper distance to attack or defend himself at. Remember that time is on his side, not yours, as he'll grow more used to your fighting style.
>>
No. 887355 ID: 91ee5f

>>887354
You might be right about that.

Well, if that’s the case, then if Fen manages to land a hit on Sir Hydril, then he should be prepared to keep dodging and/or blocking, just in case Sir Hydril doesn’t stop.
>>
No. 887356 ID: 0c3c2c

>>887320
One
>>
No. 887357 ID: a363ac

>>887320
with the way his arms are positioned he will likely come at you from above with a smash or in a horizontal sweep from the left plan for this and go for 1.
>>
No. 887361 ID: d0f879

One.

If he's already taking you seriously letting him practice against you will probably help him more than you. Worst case you can spar against him later and practice that way. You only get one chance against him where you are an unknown fighter.
>>
No. 887366 ID: 4ee93b

One seems to be the best bet. If you pass you can train with him all week.
>>
No. 887370 ID: 3c570a

There's a fourth option: spar, but don't do anything that would help him defeat you. Practice your reflexes, like Frais did, or your anticipation or ability to read your opponent's intent, or anything else that you feel you're lacking in. Heck, do the whole session with the opposite hand you normally would, practicing fighting reverse-grip is very important. Or fight in some other way that's very different from how you usually fight.

I'm not sure if I actually recommend the fourth-option approach, but I thought it should be mentioned. I should probably also mention that as time goes by, the number of people who have seen you fight and lived will increase, and more people will know your fighting style. If you could manage to defeat Hydril after he's learned what you fight like, it'll be much better practice for the future. I mean, wasn't there a plan for you to get into an arena arrangement, much later? Loads of people will be watching you fight then.

... You know, technically, I don't think making an attempt necessarily ends the sparring session. If you manage to not just get knocked out, you could keep going after. Practice fighting while injured? I've been wondering if receiving healing for smaller injuries all over your body might slightly improve your overall physical fitness.

I really don't know what I should vote, now. I'm leaning towards making an attempt, but I don't know what counts as a cheap trick to you or not. Any specific strategy? I hope not. I'll tentatively vote one, telling him you'd like to make an attempt and then practice fighting while injured. If he really does hate/disapprove/etc of you, telling him you want to be injured might also prevent getting so much of a beating.

In fact, here's a tactic for you: I notice he's been putting his back to the wall. Maybe spar a little first, practice maneuvering around him, and see if you can get your back to the wall instead, which will restrict his movements a little (if he overshoots his swing with his long weapon he'll hit the wall instead of you). Then declare an attempt. Does that count as a cheap trick?
>>
No. 887383 ID: c0641d

One: And don’t discount the possibility of him just trying to poke you in the face with the sword’s end. I say that since outdoing him in raw speed isn’t gonna happen, we should make the slow approach, assuming he doesn’t go on the offensive due to taking us more seriously. It’ll allow us to watch more carefully for attacks (and if he does go for the poke, we can easily snap up our sword to knock it outside and go for a kick ourselves by sliding our sword up against his to get in range). If he does go on the offensive, don’t suddenly go on the defensive like one might expect; surge forward to end the match in one exchange, one way or another, iaido style.
>>
No. 887394 ID: bfb318
File 152804127008.png - (11.47KB , 800x800 , 1086.png )
887394

"I'd like to make an attempt." And I'll fight fairly, instead of simply trying to land a strike at any expense.
>"I accept your attempt."

He stays still. He's in a defensive position, and remains that way. He's waiting for me, so I decide to get in close to him, quickly.

I lift my foot.
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No. 887395 ID: bfb318
File 152804127827.png - (37.76KB , 800x800 , 1087.png )
887395

He leaps to the side and pulls his sword back. It gives me just enough time to lift my sword up to parry his swing to my face.

The straws in my sword crack, but I keep moving forward. Hydril keeps moving back, staying in range to swing at me, but out of my range to swing back at him.

I won't be able to close the distance with carefully stepping forward.
>>
No. 887400 ID: bb78f2

And NOW'S the time when you get down low, break into a windmill spinaroonie, and GO IN FOR THE KILL!
>>
No. 887401 ID: 5a65f4
887401

Aim for his extremities. When he attacks see if you can thrust into his arm or something.
>>
No. 887402 ID: eeb7d9

>>887395
Is it me or Fen's pant's just fell off?
Little mistake aside, seems that rushing him foward won't work. Maybe we can go to his sides, going closer to the ground, taking advantage of height. It should prove to be more dificult to hit Fen like that. He might expect this to tho. And that sword won't last long against those stricks. Let's try to make them slide by the sword if posible.
>>
No. 887403 ID: eeb7d9

>>887395
AH, HE FIX IT! SO QUICK!
>>
No. 887404 ID: 86eb65

When facing a enemy with superior reach you will need to use the terrain to your advantage. In this case it would be to get him into a spot in the room where he trips over something or can no longer move backward.

Of course he will reposition if he gets in a spot like that but it will give you a opening.

Keep your footwork solid. If you were not practice that quick attack would have happened as you moved your feet. And you would have fallen over.

You need to stay defensive while aggressively moving into his reach so you can strike. But you will need to feel out his stance and look for openings. Once you find one you can move in and strike.
>>
No. 887405 ID: b1b4f3

He reacted instantly to you. Can you take advantage of that, and use a feint to get him to do something that will let you get close enough to strike?

He really likes aiming for the face, you could use that to predict his strikes and either dodge them outright or force a glancing blow on your sword which would let you attack with it afterwards. Perhaps he aims for the face since he's taller and that's actually the closest part of your body. He'll have a harder time aiming lower, so if you can force that it'll help. Like, take a lower stance.

You could try limiting his movement by backing him into a wall or the crowd...
>>
No. 887408 ID: 3c570a

Your sword's "blade" won't take another strike. But you NEED to get inside his reach, he has all the power while he has you in his range and himself out of yours.

Charge or jump at him, as fast as you can. If you can manage it, feint him out by dipping down low, maybe even dive. I'm sure he's expecting a charge now so you need to add something to it.

If you need to block, adjust your grip and block with the hilt of your sword. Perhaps even do so one-handed, if you think you can keep your grip when he strikes, as if you were wielding a dagger with the hilt of your sword for the blade. That will free up your other hand to try and do something, either helping you recover from the dive or striking at him with your claws, or grabbing his sword (in such a way that if it were a real sword it wouldn't cut you, so he can't claim it as a hit). Whichever suits better, according to your instincts.

If you don't want to try a full dive, then since he's moved away from the wall now, maybe you should try putting your back to it. It'll mean he can only hit you with the tip of his sword, since trying for the middle will risk hitting the wall instead. You could also try doing this first to convince him you're going on the defensive, THEN try the big charge/dive attack.
>>
No. 887409 ID: 91ee5f

>>887395
>The straws in my sword crack
Shit, you won’t be able to parry his strikes for very long! If this keeps up, your sword is going to break!
>>
No. 887410 ID: 848416

>>887408
He might not "see" the wall clearly. Back to the wall also means Fen could push off with his tail too, for extra speed.
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No. 887412 ID: deec6e

You won't be able to close the distance being careful, but he's fast enough that one slip-up is all it will take. Charging in recklessly is a recipe for a thrashing. At the same time, you have to keep pressing him and trying to get close and that means tanking those hits.

You have an option there, though.

If his tactic is to use his reach and break your sword, there's something you can do - break his sword. He's using the same kind of sword, with the same weakness - the main difference that risks breaking your sword is in the force applied to what structural point. So... is the handle more sturdy? It's a handguard, so they tend to be.

If you position your block at an angle, you might be able to tank the blow on the handle - even meet it with force of your own - and break the tip of his sword. If successful, you'll have reduced the range of his weapon, and part of his advantage. You've got less of a surface to block with, though, so if he sees what you're doing and adjusts you need to be able to dodge it. The fact he keeps aiming for your head should at least help if you try that strategy.

Heh. It's funny. Rasyan, too, threatened to break the blade we were using, which forced us to get clever.

... oh shit. Was Hydril the one to train the 'training room champion' Rasyan?
>>
No. 887413 ID: dd19e9

Speed up your footwork a bit, but don’t sacrifice defense. With other challengers, he seemed to be using a high sword stance when he kept his sword upright; ideal for downward strikes. Now, he seems to be using a middle sword stance, holding his sword out in front of him and angling it forward. This makes sense, as it makes sense for all of the soldiers put before him to use a middle stance, which a high stance would be good at defending against, but the more well-rounded middle stance is better against an opponent he might perceive as being more unpredictable, like us. Let’s take on a high stance to better parry the side-blows favored by the middle stance and try to get at his hands with our own attacks.

If our sword does break, but the two halves are still attached, that does open up a fairly simple gambit (playing dirty made necessary by, y’know, our weapon being broken); folding our weapon around his, and using rotational leverage to wrench it out of his grasp. Even if there’s not enough opportunity to then pick up his sword, we’ll still be back on even footing, albeit in “sudden death” mode due the rules on unarmed combat explained before.
>>
No. 887414 ID: f3fe9b

Try to angle the sword to deflect the blows, not absorb them entirely. Keep moving forward, blocking his movement to corner him. If a sword breaks, appropriate another off a gawping bystander.
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No. 887415 ID: a62780

>>887395
Okay, this is good despite the damaged weapon. You're fast enough to react to his swing and he's still putting a lot of force behind it.

I think you'll need to end things fast since he's playing into his reach and ability to break the weapons. I suggest a charge, low and fast.

If you can manage to get your blade into a shallow angle for a deflecting parry which takes his blade over you (for a sideswing) or even better, into the ground (for a downswing, which might break his own blade) while you complete your attack. I'd suggest going for his arms/hands since they'll be closest, but even if he's fast enough to pull them back you should be quick enough to hit his body or even if force to block retaliatory attack, tackle him (the rules aren't limited to hitting him with a sword)
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No. 887416 ID: bfb318
File 152804831270.png - (20.70KB , 800x800 , 1088.png )
887416

I haven't seen him do a swing from below yet, and he seems to react instantly to whatever motions people do.

I watch his current position and prepare for a strike as soon as I enter, keeping my position defensive but my movement forward offensive. I move so that he has to back into the spectating crowd, while I get low so that he has to swing in a more predictable spot and possibly give me another instant to react with.

As expected, he's swinging towards my head, and I immediately move to guard.
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No. 887417 ID: bfb318
File 152804831973.png - (34.89KB , 1000x800 , 1089.png )
887417

Instead of blocking with my 'blade', I use the hilt, and thrust into his blade to break his sword, but he still has at least half his sword intact.
>>
No. 887418 ID: 3abd97

Right. So on the plus side, you've reduced your opponent's reach advantage. On the downside, he's still fast, and a shorter weapon means he has better maneuverability in close.

Press what advantage you have to get closer, remain aggressive in defending yourself. Remember, unarmed hits are allowed, and he might try to make one.
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No. 887425 ID: f3fe9b

You've got a chance to reach out and hit his big-ass hands if you think you're quick enough for it. If not, keep moving forward to corner him.
>>
No. 887426 ID: b1b4f3

>>887417
Alright good, you can be more aggressive and start trying to hit his hands.
>>
No. 887427 ID: a62780

>>887417
Press the advantage before he can fully adapt to this, keep up your advance and feint an attack to his arms then turn the attack downwards to his legs, which seem to tend to jut forwards due to his stretched proportions.
>>
No. 887430 ID: bb78f2

>>887417
Hey if you can grab that thing that broke you could use it as a distraction.

I don't consider that dirty or cheap, you're using feints.
>>
No. 887436 ID: 84a8da

Time for a feint now. Baiting for a strike that you could deflect into a position that would leave him vulnerable.
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No. 887440 ID: 91ee5f

>>887417
You’ve reduced his reach, which means he can’t keep you away and you can get him into your reach.

However, don’t lower your guard, he’s still got half of his sword. And you should really try to not get hit now, since getting hit with the broken end might actually end up cutting you or giving you a splinter!

>>887430
I’m pretty sure Sir Hydril will move too quickly for us to try that.
>>
No. 887442 ID: eeb7d9

Keep rushing forward slightly to his sides, but maintain a defensive position, look for the counter attack. Take in account that he has less range now, but more movelity.
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No. 887445 ID: 3c570a

>>887417

The remains of his sword are going off to your side, and he should be a little unbalanced. Twist your sword sideways to knock his weapon further away, and move in close to him. If you get inside the reach of his arms, elbow them out of the way too, and go for the strike! Maybe even a roundhouse kick to his side, keeping your arms close to you for more defense? Be prepared for him to kick at you or to let go with one hand to strike you.
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No. 887446 ID: 3c570a

If you don't mind looking a bit silly, you could try jump and grab both his arms in a hug-like grapple, and pull yourself up to swing forward and kick him in the stomach with both of your legs to wind him. It should unbalance him, be hard to defend against and be hard to predict. Basically a flying kick with a potential assist from swinging off him like he was a tree. Might count as a cheap trick, since it's not something you'd really do outside a one-on-one fight? And possibly kind of a dumb move even then.
>>
No. 887464 ID: 0c3c2c

>>887417
You've partially negated his reach advantage! Try to sweep his head.
>>
No. 887468 ID: 56e50f

>>887417
See if you can kick that "blade" at him before it hits the ground. That'd give you a bigger opening to press forward.
>>
No. 887469 ID: 6a5730

>>887417
So his reach advantage has now been halved. Good, that means you can get closer without risking as much.
Press the advantage a bit before they are able to mentally adjust to having a differently sized weapon.
>>
No. 887470 ID: 6a5730

>>887417
Is it possible to grab their broken blade without making yourself too vulnerable? If you can you could use it as a makeshift throwing dagger as a distraction.
>>
No. 887472 ID: deec6e

Hydril may be a bit unbalanced by that, but he is a trained knight and I doubt it's the first time the strong guy has had his weapon break. Don't think he won't react immediately. He'll probably dodge back or to the side and strike down with the remnants of the 'blade' to deflect any lunges or swings from you with his ridiculous speed and strength. Another worry is - and this is important - that he can probably block or deflect your two-handed sword swings and lunges with one hand, leaving him with a free offhand to punch, push, grab or distract. If he lets go of the sword with one hand, be aware that he's opened up a new venue of attack.

Even so, now that his reach advantage has been lost, you'll want to press the advantage and use the lessened reach to get inside his guard. Don't get tempted into entering a straight blade lock - he's clearly strong enough to just push you back or off-balance.
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No. 887474 ID: bfb318
File 152807384268.png - (45.60KB , 1200x800 , 1090.png )
887474

I move forward aggressively. I don't want to give him a chance to adjust. I feint for a lunge forward, than strike to the hand on his hilt. He doesn't manage to counter, but he does snap his guard upwards, and releases his left hand from the guard while lifting his right hand above my blade's reach. I notice a weird shuffle in his feet while his body wobbles slightly.
>>
No. 887475 ID: b1b4f3

He's probably going for a kick. Hit his leg with your sword as he does it!
>>
No. 887476 ID: 0c3c2c

>>887474
He's preparing to leap and move around you for an attack from behind. Move closer, feint towards his arm, then sweep around towards his belly.
>>
No. 887477 ID: ee2d6e

I suspect he's going to try and kick you. Keep your sword pressed against his to control it as you rush in even closer so a kick won't do more than shift you, but be ready to hop over it if he does get a kick off. Do not cede ground when you're this close. At this range you can either snap the tip of the blade against his neck, or grab the blade with one hand for the extra force needed to make a proper cut and draw the whole "edge" against his body.
>>
No. 887479 ID: ba5478

Try to disarm him. You can probably hit his wrist or, if he gives up his sword and retracts his hand, have an advantage.

If he's going for a kick just attack his leg.
>>
No. 887480 ID: 3abd97

>>887474
He's probably going to jump (backwards to free up room, or forwards to overwhelm you) or he's going for a kick.

You might still be able to twist or slide your sword along the hilt to stab him in a finger or thumb. He's pretty much have to swing his hand back and to his right to avoid that, which balance wise, would support him coming in from the left for a kick.

If he does kick, you might be able to drop and avoid the blow, while putting your sword in his leg's path. It would probably break, but he'd have stabbed himself on it.
>>
No. 887482 ID: deec6e

His left hand has been freed. Watch out for strikes, grabs and the like.
>>
No. 887483 ID: 86eb65

Could be a kick. Either roundhouse or just straight in front of him.

Or a hop in a direction. Or over you if the ceiling is high enough.

Or just a fancy movement shuffle. Or some weird mutant thing we have not seen yet.

Watch his body and feet carefully. He will telegraph what he is doing the instant before it happens.

Keep your sword ready and keep moving into his reach. Just be aware that once you are in his reach he can quickly move those long limbs around you.

Most things he could try you can block with your sword if you are fast and careful. But he might try a side kick your hand to disarm you. So be ready to yank back your sword if he tries something tricky like that.
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No. 887487 ID: c0641d

What I fear is an attack on multiple fronts. A downward swing of his sword would keep our busy while he lines up a kick. To counteract this without it backfiring in the case of him prepping a side-hop instead... hm... It occurs to me that we weren’t moving at our full speed thus far. I know we wouldn’t be able to beat Hydryl in raw speed, but maybe a sudden burst of it now could catch him by surprise? Like, a sudden step forward and simultaneous upward swing at one of his arms? ... Eh, that might be too risky.
>>
No. 887488 ID: b1b4f3

Wait, the wobble... is he being pushed off balance? He is rather tall, his feet are small for his size and his tail is rather thin. Maybe you should try to knock him over to one side.
>>
No. 887495 ID: 10c408

Careful. He could very easily use his free hand to do pretty much any of the following.

grab both of your hands to control your sword to ensure a hit with his own, punch you in the face, leap somewhere to force you to gain ground again and I guess feint you out with his friend hand going for a punch and simply kick you instead.
>>
No. 887510 ID: bb78f2

>>887474
Is that kick gonna be a feint?
What's your mana instincts telling you?
Respond to your instincts!
>>
No. 887519 ID: aebe2f

You could just flick your sword up along the handle to tag his hand. Like you did against the staff but in reverse. Don't let him regain his composure or balance, press forward!
>>
No. 887524 ID: cfac00

Back off a bit and prepare to defend against whatever he’s doing.
>>
No. 887535 ID: 3c570a

It could be a kick, or preparing to jump to one side. If he does kick, see if you can catch his foot or knock it to the side. His sword is also in a good position to hit you now, too, though. Not with a strong strike, but it'd still be enough for you to lose. Perhaps you should try disarm him? His grip is as weak as it's going to get on its own, I'd say. Depends how sturdy your own sword still is, though.

You still need to get closer. He's still in his range to you and you're not in yours to him.
>>
No. 887547 ID: ff1ae8

Push forward to his left to avoid his sword. Prepare for a kick.
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No. 887553 ID: bfb318
File 152813050578.png - (20.39KB , 800x800 , 1091.png )
887553

Despite how close I am, he's in a position that allows him multiple options. I slide my sword up to try and hit his hand, but he manages to pull it away in time.

My instincts are divided between rushing forward with offense, and rushing forward while keeping my defenses up since he could swing with his sword, kick with his leg, or anything with his freed hand.

I keep my sword up to block his sword in case it comes down, but still poised to strike if I get the opportunity. My focus ends up focusing more on his foot and hand to react to anything he does with those.

He blocks my sword with his sword, which is odd since I didn't swing forward.

Then, faster than I manage to react, he reaches forward, and my sword cracks as his claws dig into the straw, locking my sword in place.
>>
No. 887554 ID: 7fad5d

>>887553
Well, he moved faster than you could react even when you were specifically focusing on his hand. Hm. Feint a kick and then claw at his hand instead if that doesn't get him to let go, I suppose.
>>
No. 887555 ID: a363ac

>>887553
prepare to drop your sword if he tries to pull you around or open your guard using it and go for a more aggressive push with your fists.
>>
No. 887556 ID: 3c570a

Ok he's just occupied both of his hands, so he's definitely going to kick you now. That or try shove you. He could also suddenly let go to unbalance you, and swipe at you with his claws.

I'd say jump at him, either up with a kick or a dive to his legs. If the former, don't put your whole weight on your sword or his grip on it but give it a bit of a tug to help boost you forward. You could also let go of your sword - if you gave it a toss forward, it might actually spring up over his sword and whack him in the face - to unbalance him with the sudden loss of tension, and dive at him with a gut punch or strike to his crotch.

You could also try suddenly letting go of your sword to spring it at him, and try grabbing his sword, since there's space on the hilt now. Even if he doesn't let go, you can, again, pull on him to yank yourself forward to swing up with a kick to his stomach. He's pretty skinny so you might even be able to unbalance him forward on top of you? Not usually an advantageous position but you just need to get one good strike in. Gut punch under the ribs or a strike to his throat should count.
>>
No. 887557 ID: 0c324b

Breaking your own sword to get out of the lock *is* an option. It'd put you at enough of a disadvantage that you'd have to have an immediate move/plan in place though.
>>
No. 887558 ID: ba5478

If you push your sword up you'll have a few options. If your sword bends enough and he keeps your sword blocked you can let it go. If you push it against the hilt it'll snap at his side and against his sword from below. It might rebound on the snapback and hit him. If he throws a kick you can just punch his leg or whatever. You'll probably get hit but that's not your win condition as long as you hit him before he says stop.

You might also want to try to take advantage of his hand position. He's also locked into blocking you the way he did it and his hands are in the same place. Plus he can't use his sword to attack you without your hilt blocking it (even if he moves the tip you still have some control of the back half of your sword. If he pushes you back you can slip under and attack his legs. To the side of his hilt to keep you locked in you can try the snapback move. The other side doesn't make much sense but it should allow you to disengage by pulling back and just ripping up the tip of your sword.

Basically he's in a much more complicated hand position than you are and can't disengage as well. If he melee attacks that's just an opening for you. If he doesn't then you probably slip into his defenses.
>>
No. 887559 ID: 5f3f48

He's going to try to disarm you or go for an unarmed attack now.

We need to attack first, or break our sword in order to hit him with it (attack our own sword to do so with a shoulder check?) or we need to attack him with the broken piece of his sword (a kick or tail slap might work).
>>
No. 887560 ID: b1b4f3

>>887553
Yank your body forwards to kick his hand/arm.
>>
No. 887562 ID: f3fe9b

Yank the sword downward across his knuckles.
or
Push it forward so you're in range for an unarmed attack. Not a bite, don't be a stereotype.
>>
No. 887563 ID: 86eb65

He has his hilt pushed on the halfway mark of your sword. In a moment he will pull with his claws and shove with his sword and break your sword in half like his is.

But you know that is going to happen so you can prepare for it.

Advance closer and shove your sword hilt to your right. It will speed up him breaking the sword and give you back the momentum.

If you do it right you will end up with your now broken sword inside his guard. Then tap him on the arm or torso.

Other options include having Aira throw you a new sword. Or twisting it hard to break just the tip off instead of in the middle.
>>
No. 887564 ID: b38f01

>>887553
Thrust. His hand is locked to your weapon now. The motion forward will trap his left hand across his chest in an awkward stance. The issue is that his sword will be free to retaliate. Is he within kicking range?
>>
No. 887566 ID: 3c570a

Oh, make sure he doesn't elbow you. Elbow strikes can be serious business!
>>
No. 887568 ID: 78face

>>887553

Hnn... damn fast, damn strong - but his showing off has got his arms in a slight cross trying to stop and break your sword. He's also got his fingers in a self-made vice at the end of your sword.

Put your weight in and keep thrusting your sword forward to either jostle his left arm back (getting his arms further into a cross) or to splinter your weapon along its length to bring you closer to him, rather than letting him dictate how it'll break. Stay low and twist your blade to block his sword with the handguard again if he tries to bring it crashing down on your head.

If he does bring his blade down to stop your forward momentum, let him 'win' the contest of strength to bring his sword and hand closer to your maw, then bite down on the hand holding the sword (or possibly, pretend you're doing it). He can try pulling away, but as long as you're shoving him backwards by the left hand or pushing forward with the splintered remains of your weapon and covering your head with your handguard until the decisive moment, he may not have much of a choice in the matter.

If he does let go of the weapon, go back to blocking your head and VERY QUICKLY grab it with a free hand and swing it after whichever arm is the closest/unoccupied - you'll have two broken blades, while he'll have his arms, which are bad enough. Note that if his left hand doesn't get jostled back, he could very easily try backhanding you (which is why you need the handguard to block strikes against your face).
>>
No. 887570 ID: 9c2d0c

He doesn't have to kick or disarm you right now, his sword is not actually trapped; he can still just bonk you in the face. He is holding your sword out of position with his free hand, so you'd be able to move it a little, but not enough to reliably block. His arms may be all crossed awkwardly, but he has plenty of room to just twist his sword wrist and slash wide parallel to your sword. It won't be a knockout hit, but it would end the duel.

I think the cool move is to twist inside his reach while actively yanking your sword around the fulcrum of his own. Hold tight, accept that part of your sword is going to break off, and stab him with the resulting "dagger" from in close. But that supposes you can dodge/glance a probable kick on the way in and keep your feet.
>>
No. 887571 ID: 91ee5f

>>887553
He might be trying to break your sword!

>>887566
Yeah, Fen already learned that lesson the hard way: >>/questarch/713609 .
>>
No. 887574 ID: b1b4f3

>>887570
Seems feasible.
>>
No. 887577 ID: a62780

>>887553
Hmm, almost all the options I see here are really open to retaliation.
I think if you push he'll pull your weapon up and away to disarm you and if you pull he'll be able to keep the blade in place while he attacks you.

Twist remains viable; your weapon is partially damaged already plus Hydril has kindly provided an anchor and fulcrum you can yourself snap it with. Ideally this hits his fingers but i suspect he's fast enough to either let go of his sword or pull away from that.
You'd lose some reach but you'll be stepping well inside his with the motion so it's not the biggest deal, from there you're in the best position you've been the entire fight, his proportions work against him right up close and you should be able to swing in an ark that hits some part of his body no matter how he dodges.

That said, awkward position or not, he's fast and skilled enough that I bet he could land a retaliatory hit, so either be willing to commit to landing a hit despite being hit OR release one hand in preparation to block/deflect such an attack.
>>
No. 887578 ID: eeb7d9

>>887570
I say Fen should go with this.
>>
No. 887586 ID: c0641d

>>887570
Yeah, this is basically what I was going to suggest. Although, considering your sword guard is right there, you could try to punch his sword hand to if not end it right there, at least expedite the break. As for the kick... Hm... Maybe throw the broken sword point blank, since both hands are occupied now, and it'll score you a point even if the inevitable kick knocks you out of range.
>>
No. 887587 ID: 3c570a

I guess with your sword caught in his free hand, he could lower his sword and swipe across your stomach? That would be awkward for him, though, he's enough taller than you that he can't really reach down that far easily.
>>
No. 887589 ID: 49a777

Alternatively to pivoting right, we could go left; we may end up in the same position as we are in now if we do, but it would likely be the safest option for not getting hit. We must keep in mind that any opportunity for him to hit us will be taken advantage of, he is able to sense and predict what we are going to do, so we must leave him no openings for him to use against us in retaliation.
>>
No. 887603 ID: 0c3c2c

>>887547
Can you try and press forward and bite him?
>>
No. 887604 ID: f3fe9b

>>887603
I'm pretty sure he'll be expecting that.
>>
No. 887605 ID: 3abd97

>>887603
>>887604
Given that he knows we're the Red Maw, it won't be a surprise, yeah.

Also goes against the spirit of trying not to injure each other if we use our teeth.

I have this nagging premonition a bite attempt would be followed up by a training sword to the face and broken teeth.
>>
No. 887606 ID: 392744

I feel at a loss, the way his sword is positioned, its like he could stab us with the broken end, be ready if thats the case.
>>
No. 887608 ID: 10c408

Alright. He's got us in a huge bind now. Despite how awkward the bladelock looks for him, he can very easily hit us. So we're going to have to be very aggressive and tricky right now to catch him off-guard and get a hit in before he knocks us out.

bare your teeth at him to make him think you are going to bite him, then pull the rug out from under him by either yanking backwards and kicking, twisting your sword to the right and stabbing/throwing the resulting dagger at his chest or jabbing forward before he finishes breaking your weapon and headbutting him.
>>
No. 887609 ID: 166e1c

Your hand are close, grab his.
>>
No. 887612 ID: bde088

>>887609
He's faster than us, stronger than us and his hands are massive. If we end the bladelock by moving a hand he's going to punish us.
>>
No. 887626 ID: bfb318
File 152816440408.png - (31.18KB , 800x800 , 1092.png )
887626

I twist and push forward. My blade snaps, but I expected as much, and push forward still. I intend to block any incoming kicks with my 'dagger', but he doesn't pull his hands back in time. My weapon scrapes against his fingers decisively.

I could sense his mana before, but all of a sudden, it spikes up.
>>
No. 887627 ID: bfb318
File 152816442513.png - (23.83KB , 800x800 , 1093.png )
887627

I wake up on a bed. My head is pounding.

>"You're up?" I hear someone talk. I look over and see what I assume is the healing wizard. "You're fine. You can go back to the training room any time."
"What happened?"
>"According to one of Sir Hydril's pawns, you passed the test, then got kicked in the face."
>>
No. 887628 ID: 86eb65

Yay you got that out of the way.

Now for a week of non stop training to make sure you can actually stand up to him in a fair fight eventually.
>>
No. 887630 ID: 3abd97

>>887627
>you passed the test, then got kicked in the face
"Hmm, unfortunate."

Well we didn't pass the test without getting hit, but we did make a better showing than most the people making trick attempts, at least. In a real fight, I think we'd still be trying to cheat by picking the battlefield, or exploiting an ambush or numbers.

Oh well. Rest of the week you can still spend training, and trying to help your friends pass. Up you go.
>>
No. 887631 ID: cfac00

Get up and go spar with one of hydrils pawns i guess. Maybe meet up with our teammates on the way too?
>>
No. 887634 ID: f3fe9b

Ask how long you've been out, and if your roguish good looks will be permanently damaged.

Go back and ask your crew if anybody else sensed that manna spike. You expected he was going to deliver a kick, but only remember the manna.
>>
No. 887635 ID: 2a13fa

"I was expecting a kick..."
>>
No. 887636 ID: 840025

>>887627
Well, not as good a victory as we hoped, but we are now able to work on our skills so that we can take on such opponents without being harmed ourselves.

Also, his mana spiked? Does that happen with kobolds? I ask because it sounds like he might have knocked you out BEFORE he kicked your face. I mean, you were prepared to block a kick.
>>
No. 887637 ID: 91ee5f

>>887627
Those injuries look like they were from more than just a kick.

Ask how long you were out?

Then go meet up with your squad mates and ask them what happened while you were out?
>>
No. 887638 ID: a62780

>I could sense his mana before, but all of a sudden, it spikes up.
That seems surprisingly like a (perhaps literal) kneejerk reaction, maybe that move gave him a surprise splinter. (Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.)

Anyhoo, good job on passing. Take a moment to get your bearings fully and do a little mental self-examination, then go rejoin the others.
>>
No. 887639 ID: 91ee5f

>>887637
And ask them if you really were kicked in the face or did Sir Hydril do something else?
>>
No. 887641 ID: 363437

Wait if his mana spiked that means he might have enhanced his body with mana! Imagine if you could speed yourself up or strengthen your body in short bursts!

You have got to learn that trick if that is what happened. Feel your face and make sure your teeth are ok then get back to training.

You might need to help train Aira to get past his test.
>>
No. 887642 ID: 7fad5d

Make a big show out of checking your teeth and act like they're really important to you. Feign concern and anger. Gotta make sure people think the worst of barbarians and the Red Maw so you can take advantage when they underestimate you.
>>
No. 887655 ID: b1b4f3

>>887627
Ask if Hydril seemed angry.

See if you can get out of bed. You're going to want to spar like this, I think. You wanted to practice fighting while injured, didn't you?
>>
No. 887663 ID: eeb7d9

HAHAHA. Man, i shouldn't feel this much satisfied, giving we didn't manage to avoid getting hit, but i think we make him angry somehow. That makes me feel good.
However, this means that we have much to improve. Let's not waste more time and get back to trainning.
How did we get knocked out?
Did Hydril look upset?
>>
No. 887666 ID: 9ca89b

Muse out loud tjat you were trying to anticipate a kick, yet couldn't see it coming.
>>
No. 887671 ID: b27fb0

Wow what a cheap bitch. I'm starting to see why the north, with putting so much importance on strength, hasn't been able to take out the south yet. It's only individual strength, they have an army of suiciders and glory seeking dumb assess.

"Not good enough"
>>
No. 887674 ID: 10c408

Man, it looks like a mountain kobolod used Fen's face like a towel to dry off their backside.

anyways. Get up, slowly. If you don't get dizzy or feel off-balance than you are probably fine. Ask the wizard how long you've been out.
>>
No. 887680 ID: 0c3c2c

>>887627
To be fair, we still technically won heroically. Kicking you in the face was simply a face-saving method for our teacher. Next time we bring the plate armor and watch as he breaks his toes on our visor.
>>
No. 887683 ID: 3c570a

Feel your face with your fingers and check out your teeth. You probably can't demand more healing, though, Hydril said people would be healed but implied only enough to get them conscious and able to train again. The wizard needs to save his strength, anyway, with the amount of healing he's probably going to need to do. Ask him if there's any salves or anything you can put on.

And get back to training!
>>
No. 887686 ID: 91ee5f

Oh, wait, I think I understand what happened.

Remember what Unon said? He said, “The whole point is so that you'll at least be able to do some harm to an abomination so your teammates can finish it off."

Fen scraping Sir Hydril’s fingers must’ve counted as “doing some harm to an abomination”, so Sir Hydril decided to “kill” Fen so that his teammates can come in to “finish off the abomination”. So I think Sir Hydril is supposed to knock out his challengers, regardless of if they pass or fail.

Also, we have to consider how quickly he kicked Fen. That means Sir Hydril is actively holding back his true strength, even during the attempts. Which means even though he can hit someone hard enough to break his training sword, he possibly has the potential to swing even harder, to the point that he could kill someone with a training sword.
>>
No. 887687 ID: b1b4f3

Something to note: the arena likely accepts abominations like Hydril. Fen will need to get strong enough to beat Hydril if he is to win in the arena.
>>
No. 887698 ID: caf1de

don't be surprised if everyone else asks you to train them
>>
No. 887712 ID: b38f01

>>887627
Didn't leave a scar, did he?
>>
No. 887735 ID: eeb7d9

>>887686
That is a good assumption. But i still wonder why did we got a different treatment from the rest. And what was that sudden mana spike from him. Why is he "apparently" mad at us?
Last thing we need now is an abomination trying to kill us.
>>
No. 887736 ID: 10c408

>>887735
A few guesses for why he stepped up his game.

1: he was expecting us to back off and quit after getting us in the bind, only we didn't.

2: he REALLY doesn't like us based off of what he knows about us, being a purist and all.

3: He kicked us for breaking our own weapon to ensure a hit, which would certainly get you killed down here and let's be honest, was a little reckless.

So, in short, we got kicked. The why of it will require more information from the man himself.
>>
No. 887740 ID: 91ee5f

>>887736
There’s also the possibility that he’s heard of all the things Fen has done down here:

Fen being the first kobold that was able to enter one of the darkness anomalies and come back out alive, Fen’s report about the White Worm and it’s antlers which resulted in a successful mission to retrieve all of them, and Fen’s participation in that mission.

After hearing all of that, Sir Hydril probably got more aggressive with Fen because he’s expecting Fen to be able to handle it better than the other kobolds that are here.
>>
No. 887741 ID: 3c570a

>>887736
>>887740
It could be your classic kung fu master being tougher on the student with the most potential thing, but I wouldn't rule out other possibilities. Point being, let's find out more before we try to judge.

If he does go harder on Fen for personal reasons, that'll just make Fen tougher. So long as he doesn't actually kill Fen, it's good.

Anyway, Fen, you should feel good about this! You've secured further training and boosted your reputation further. I mean, not only did you pass, I think you did so more impressively than anyone else so far! You didn't use any cheap trick you'd come up with ahead of time, you traded a few rounds instead of it all being decided in one moment, and you both busted up your weapons in the process. Don't forget to reflect on what you could have done better (maybe turned your head to face your horns towards the kick?), but enjoy a lick of victory while you can. You're probably top ranked among the people who have passed the test so far.
>>
No. 887742 ID: 86eb65

He might not be mad at us at all. At the speeds we were fighting at the kick could have been in the air as we hit his knuckles with our sword.

Will find out as we go.
>>
No. 887744 ID: 5f3f48

>>887655
I don't think he'd know how Hydril felt about it. From the "According to one of Sir Hydril's pawns" it sounds like the doc didn't witness the fight. Which makes sense, he's had all the other people who tried to tend to.
>>
No. 887747 ID: 91ee5f

>>887655
Sir Orjin said, “How about you defeatists train to not get injured in the first place?!”

And I have to agree, that sounds like a much better idea than whatever the fuck we were doing with Aria earlier. Emulating various injuries was a pretty dumb thing for us to do.
>>
No. 887748 ID: c0641d

>>887736
Another possibility was that he using close to his full abilities (sans mana bs), and us getting the first hit in bruised his ego. But like several people have been saying, it's probably best not to dwell on this.
>>
No. 887760 ID: b5e4c3

>>887627

Rest your head for a little while and reflect on what happened - the blow might've knocked some of your recollection from your head, but it might come back if you think about it. Likely Hydril used mana to boost his speed somehow, whether it be a magic item or innate skill. Don't feel angry - Hydril is here to train you, and part of what he's shown you here is that there ARE bullshit moves available for the likes of him. For all intents and purposes, you achieved your goal in the match, and now you know that there are opponents that must be taken very seriously. That blinding speed must've been something like what the Dragon Knight who killed Lady Apanya's Gold nobles had, after all.

As an aside, I really think Hydril realized Fen had realized he was gonna kick, and used a trump card to speed up. If he hadn't, he'd have gotten a 'blade' in his leg for his trouble, in addition to the score across his knuckles, and playing the role of both a serious opponent and trainer, he would not let a semi-defeat like that happen. There might be additional motivations, too. Knocking out everyone who challenges him seems, really, to be a priority for him, oddly enough.

Getting an enemy to use a trump card, to tap resources or display skills they otherwise shouldn't have had to use, can absolutely be considered a victory for a lesser knight, though. Dame Frais got to Hydril through a trick - Fen forced him to go to some extent of 'all out'. And having experienced it, Fen will want to find ways to survive such power moves in the future. He should try to learn as much as he can during these few weeks, and not be discouraged that he's outmatched by someone who has had time, money, experience, biology and training on his side. The purpose of being here is to lessen that gap, after all.
>>
No. 887781 ID: f3fe9b

I don't think he's mad, I think that mana burst was what made him move so fast you didn't even see what happened. In any case, it's fair to assume we won because he let us.
>>
No. 887787 ID: 91ee5f

>>887781
He didn’t let us win. We struck him and we passed the challenge. That was the whole point of challenging him.
>>
No. 887792 ID: 3abd97

>>887747
Trying to avoid injury is all well and good, but Murphy is an asshole. At some point, Fen almost certainly will be hurt, and someone who has at least tried to prepare for that eventuality is better off than someone who never did.
>>
No. 887793 ID: 7c90bc

Try not to be too smug. You legitimately defeated his test on your first try through skill and natural ability. I imagine it bruised his ego that you passed his test on the first try using your own skill, and that him putting his all into a kick to your face was a reminder that you are still the student here.
>>
No. 887799 ID: bfb318
File 152824232908.png - (17.30KB , 800x800 , 1094.png )
887799

I check myself. All my teeth still seem intact, and nothing below my face appears injured.

"How long as I out for?"
>"About an hour."
"Will these leave a scar?"
>"No, your face will be fine, princess."
"My name is Fen."
>"... Oh. You must be Red Maw. Get back to training, barbarian."
"Do I get any healing salves?"

He looks at me like I've just asked for his hand in marriage.

>"Yeah. In that basket."
>>
No. 887800 ID: bfb318
File 152824233793.png - (31.51KB , 800x800 , 1095.png )
887800

The basket contains non-magical, mundane bandages. I don't think I can cover my more signifiant wounds without covering my eyes, so I skip it and head back to my teammates.

Aira seems hurt, and is leaning on a wall.

"Aira, are you alright?"
>"I feel better than you look."
"I don't know how I look."

Firzel also approaches me.

>"You look like a mountain kobold used your face as a towel."
"I was told that all Sir Hydril did was kick me."
>"He's got big feet."
"I anticipated a kick. I even blocked it with my sword."
>"I didn't see it until his foot was on your face." says Aira.
>"I saw it." Firzel continues. "He kicked your sword out of the way with his claws, like a toe-flick." He punches forward slowly while flicking as though to show me. "The follow through, of course, being the face kick."
"I also sensed a burst of mana."
>>
No. 887801 ID: bfb318
File 152824234397.png - (17.76KB , 800x800 , 1096.png )
887801

>"Oh, that? Sometimes when a kobold suddenly has focus or intensity or otherwise bursts into action, their mana will spike up occasionally. It's easy to see on abominations. So if you noticed that, that just means you're getting better at mana sensing, especially if you sensed the kick coming."
"I just thought it was the move that made sense. He didn't use any spells to boost his own physical capabilities?"
>"He's no southern wizard! He can't do that. Anyway ask about why Aira looks like she looks like she attempted to pass the test seven times!"
"Aira, why did - "
>"Because she tried it seven times!" Firzel answers for her. Judging by Aira's look, it is equally rude to answer someone else's question here as it was back home. He still continues talking. "Everyone else got hit just once and got knocked out, but she just kept going! Then he started hitting her in other spots on her body."
"Aira?"
>"Yes." says Aira. "The trick is to headbutt the sword."
"That works?"
>"That or my skull is thick. I sparred with him afterwards."
>"Despite what Dame Frais told us."
>"I forgot about that."
>"Yeah, thick skull for sure."
>"I don't know if I can pass this test." says Aira. "No matter how unpredictable my actions should be, he responded easily. I stopped trying because I wasn't getting close at all, and he was hitting me harder every time."
"Did he seem mad? I thought he might have been mad at me."
>"I can't tell."
>"Yeah, no idea." says Firzel. "I can't see his mouth, and he doesn't even blink. I asked his Lesser Knights, and either they don't know either, or they're lying. If Sir Hydril's gotten mad, you'd have to ask him directly."
>"I don't think it matters if he's mad or not." Aira says.
>"Maybe, but I'm pretty confident. It's my turn soon."
>>
No. 887802 ID: b1b4f3

>>887801
>Aira is hard to knock out (high pain tolerance?)
Well, that would be great when facing something she could survive being hit by. Unfortunately that is not going to be the case where we're going. ...did she get hit in the eye again?

Maybe we should focus on drills for her, get her offensive capability up a bit. If she can do SOMETHING fast enough to hit Hydril before he can react, it'll be good enough to pass.

Tell Firzel good luck.
>>
No. 887803 ID: 7fad5d

"Good luck. Try spitting on him, see if that counts as a hit."
>>
No. 887804 ID: bb78f2

>>887801
Wow, so even Firzil thinks Hydril's mad at Fen even though Firzil can't really tell, so there's some fruit to the thought.

Sounds like Aira WILL need something cheap to do this. From the rules we heard, nothing barred something like a flash bomb or other prepared materials. Thing is we don't know if he's blind and using mana sense or hearing to detect people... so maybe there's a mana flash bomb to could block those all those senses.

Thing is she'll get ONE shot to do that before he finds a countermeasure or decides to actively make that against the rules so that others don't use that technique to pass easily.
>>
No. 887805 ID: cfac00

“Good luck, you’ll need it to not be unconscious by the end.”
>>
No. 887806 ID: 86eb65

So boosting physical attributes with mana is possible. Well that is something for a later day. Still need to work on sensing mana and feeling it.

Wish him luck and watch his spar. Then continue training with Aira and anyone else around.
>>
No. 887809 ID: 3abd97

Did anyone else manage to pass?

>Aira got smacked seven times and she's still standing
That's pretty impressive though.

>"I don't know if I can pass this test." says Aira. "No matter how unpredictable my actions should be, he responded easily.
We still have a week. Worst case, we need to come up with another dirty trick. Throwing a sword worked, once.

>"Maybe, but I'm pretty confident. It's my turn soon."
Wish him good luck.
>>
No. 887815 ID: f3fe9b

Go up and make him mad, Firzel. Good luck.
>>
No. 887823 ID: eeb7d9

Guess we are going to have to ask the kobold itself. We still don't know why he allowed us to spar with him indefinitely.

>"Maybe, but I'm pretty confident. It's my turn soon."
What is your plan? Planning on getting hit in the face as well? Or you found a way to avoid it?
This is a joke. Try to make it. But seriously, what is his plan.

Also, maybe we should ask Hydril to spar with him, he might let us.
>>
No. 887824 ID: 0c3c2c

>>887801
Give him your well-wishes, continue training Aira! Also, be prepared for berzerk Abominations trying to kill you.
>>
No. 887827 ID: 91ee5f

>>887800
>"You look like a mountain kobold used your face as a towel."
“A mountain kobold dropped his elbow onto my head once and that hurt like hell. Sir Hydril kicking me in the face hurt more than that.”

>>887801
>So if you noticed that, that just means you're getting better at mana sensing
Oh, good, at least we know that’s finally paying off.

>"Maybe, but I'm pretty confident. It's my turn soon."
Wish him luck.

.....hey, where’s Dame Frais? I kinda expected her to be the first one from our group to come say something to Fen after he woke up.

Maybe we should help Aira train up her mana sensing? That way she could better predict Sir Hydril’s attacks next time she makes an attempt.

Or help Aira do what Dame Frais did and camouflage her mana? That would help with hiding how she’s going to attack.
>>
No. 887839 ID: c0641d

Damn, Firzel must have a good eye. Or did we already know that? I admit it’s been a while. Ask if his tactics involve his visual analysis.
>>
No. 887840 ID: 91ee5f

>>887839
Out of everyone that came with us from Sir Orjin’s squad, Firzel is the best at mana sensing. I’m pretty sure he’s gonna use that as part of his strategy.
>>
No. 887877 ID: de6d84

Signal a glare for "good luck."
>>
No. 887900 ID: 10c408

Tell Firzel that the best thing he can do is put Sir Hydril on the backfoot and get his hit in before Hydril switches his approach up and knocks you out.
>>
No. 887922 ID: bfb318
File 152831972131.png - (44.09KB , 1200x800 , 1097.png )
887922

"Were you able to see his kick because of mana sensing, or visual?"
>"Little o' both. Mana cued me in for what to look for, then I focused on it, otherwise I'd miss it."
"Alright. Good luck on the test. Keep him on his back foot."

I look around and see Frais lightly sparring with a few other people. She nods at me.

Apparently, two other people have managed to pass, but I don't know who.

Aira may need a cheap trick to pass, but we've barely started the week.

I watch Firzel as his turn is called. He challenges Hydril, who accepts, and they take their stance. They stand there for awhile, slightly adjusting and fidgeting their positions. If they can anticipate each other as well as it seems, then maybe they can anticipate what the other is anticipating as well.

Then they lunge for each other. Firzel yanks out a small training sword that he fit into his jacket by snapping off most of the blade as well as half of the guard. He blocks Hydril's strike with his modified weapon, and swings with his intact sword towards Hydril's arm.

He reaches it in time to strike the arm, or at least the clothing, just as Hydril's sword slides over the dagger and hits Firzel.

>"Stop." Hydril says, as Firzel is knocked to the ground.
>>
No. 887924 ID: bfb318
File 152831973003.png - (17.80KB , 800x800 , 1098.png )
887924

Firzel gets up. It was a short enough strike that he didn't get knocked out.

>"Good enough." says Hydril, as Firzel walks back towards us. "You've passed."
"Congratulations."
>"Congratulations." Aira repeats.

Firzel rubs his face where he got struck.

>"Thanks."
"Why did you hide the dagger? I didn't realize it at first, but when I remember what Sir Hydril was doing, he may have expected it."
>"He absolutely knew it was there, but also knew that it'd take me a second longer to pull it out. I was betting that he'd think it would take me longer to pull it out than I was capable of."
"It seemed to work."
>"Eh. I think he played into it just to see if I could do it. I didn't feel like he was taking the fight as seriously as he did with others."
>>
No. 887925 ID: bfb318
File 152831973794.png - (43.84KB , 1200x800 , 1099.png )
887925

Aira spars with me, some, but also spars against other lesser knights and students alike.

Some people hand in their sparring tickets. I keep mine, but I only spar once today with Sir Hydril. His strikes aren't light, but they aren't heavy either, and don't hinder my performance much.

While the training room comes off like a plain storage area, the rest of the rooms in this area are more cluttered. There's a kitchen and dining area, along with a room full of beds we're expected to sleep in. A few other rooms are also down a hall, where Hydril's lesser knights stay, along with the storage area for Erja straw where a number of pawns craft new training swords to replace all the ones that break.

The day passes, and Aira and I are getting ready for bed with one last session of meditation. Firzel was the last one who passed, meaning only 5 people in total have passed so far.

"You appeared troubled. It's only the night of the 50th. You have until the end of the 55th to beat Sir Hydril." I tell her.
>"I'm not bothered about it."
"Then why do you appear distraught?"
>"It smells bad in here." she whispers, so no one else in the room can hear her.

I don't know if there's much I can do to help Aira besides offer sparring and advice, but some students are conspiring to make up for their lack of ability by using trickery to pass in more advanced ways than throwing swords. Aira hasn't shown interest in that, yet, maybe because it's only the 50th. She has until the end of the 55th to pass.
>>
No. 887926 ID: 86eb65

I wonder if we can find her some aromatics. Like pressed flowers or ceder wood chips. Would help with the smell.

Oh or just charcoal. Can wrap that up in some cloth and it helps absorb odors.
>>
No. 887927 ID: b38f01

>>887926
Dang, good idea. Maybe even some towels soaked in scented water.
>>
No. 887928 ID: 91ee5f

>>887926
>>887927
Let’s worry about more important things, like helping Aira pass the test.
>>
No. 887929 ID: bb78f2

Tell her you're sorry you farted.
You'll hold it in longer next time.
>>
No. 887930 ID: 3abd97

>>887925
I sort of think we have to trust Aira here. If she wants help, or if she thinks she's in trouble, she'll say so. You can help her train (although she should practice against more people than just you), but coming up with all kinds of unsolicited advice and plans sort of sends the message "I don't think you can do this without me".

When we're not helping Aira (or our other allies) train, Fen should probably get some training in for himself too.

>>"It smells bad in here."
Does she have a better nose, I wonder, or is she just more bothered by it.

>>887926
Could work, assuming we have access to or can requisition anything like that.
>>
No. 887931 ID: b59fad

The trouble is, the longer you take, the more possible cheap tricks will be used up by other people. While at the same time, the more attempts you make, the more Hydril learns about your fighting style.

Perhaps there's a secondary lesson trying to be taught here, about adaptability? Most people who got to this level probably did so by being good at one particular way of winning fights and honing it. When you get to fighting monsters and magical experiments like the ones here, or mutants, or fighters with a wider range, that reliance on a single way of doing things hurts you - as does the fact that you're gaining reputation and more people are hearing about who you are and how you fight. It makes you predictable. That this test stresses creativity may be intentional.

The test is kind of stacked against Aira. What she's demonstrated is resilience, which doesn't help her for a test where if she's hit once she's out. Granted, in non-training the enemy would be using real weapons, but she would also be using armor. Not that headbutting a sword with your helmet is really advisable. The thought does, however, make be briefly entertain the notion of collecting broken weapon parts and making them into crude armor.

Suggest she tries working with a staff/training spear and practicing her speed.
>>
No. 887932 ID: b59fad

Oh hey, I just remembered, Aira would have gotten some healing as well, right? That might have sped her eye up. Ask her how it feels.

Also... maybe I'm just being paranoid, but take a few sniffs yourself, Fen. Is it just "a bunch of people who've been sweating all day crammed together" smell, or is it something else? Is it stronger anywhere? You do smell it yourself, right?
>>
No. 887934 ID: f3fe9b

Tell her sorry, you've misplaced your last set of nose plugs.
>>
No. 887949 ID: 91ee5f

>>887930
>I sort of think we have to trust Aira here. If she wants help, or if she thinks she's in trouble, she'll say so. You can help her train (although she should practice against more people than just you), but coming up with all kinds of unsolicited advice and plans sort of sends the message "I don't think you can do this without me".
>When we're not helping Aira (or our other allies) train, Fen should probably get some training in for himself too.
I agree with all of this.

>>887931
>This test stresses creativity may be intentional.
That makes sense.
>>
No. 887955 ID: b1b4f3

>>887925
Hmm, Hydril's behavior is a bit odd. Why not ask him why he seemed to let Firzel off lightly? Might shed some light on what this lesson is really about. Did he *want* to teach Firzel, but didn't want to teach you or Aira?

Don't micromanage her. Tell her if she wants to practice out any special techniques, she can try them against you, where Hydril can't see or sense. Or if she wants to remain a Lesser Knight that's still a respectful position.

It might also be a good idea to spar against all the lesser knights to see what their skill levels are. If there are any that are more skilled than you, you can recommend them as the best way to prepare for Hydril. If you're better than all of them then you should be the opponent to beat in a similar test before Aira can be confident of hitting Hydril.
>>
No. 887956 ID: b1b4f3

>bad smell
Oh don't tell me there's a zombie in here somewhere? Or a more mundane dead body?
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No. 887959 ID: bfb318
File 152833125260.png - (8.82KB , 800x800 , 1100.png )
887959

I smell it too. Maybe Aira has a better sense of smell than I do, but it may simply bother her more than me. She still meditates, so I spare her from any joking, which was never my strong point.

Either way, there's nothing odd about it, just the smell of people who have exerted themselves physically all day and have not bathed recently. There isn't much I can do about that, either, except perhaps to drown it out with other smells. I get a pawn to purchase some aromatics outside, but it can't fully drown out the smell.

We go to bed.
>>
No. 887960 ID: bfb318
File 152833126534.png - (28.25KB , 800x800 , 1101.png )
887960

I train as much as I can while I have the choice. Hydril's lesser knights are often formidable, but I'm able to beat them more often than not.

The 51st goes by, and 3 more people pass. Then the 52nd passes, and only one person passes. The 53rd passes with no success, and Aira is one of many that haven't passed. I gradually get more and more time to spar with Sir Hydril, as not many people want to spar with him at once anymore. Plus, he doesn't appear to sleep. If I wake up before anyone else, I can train with him more. I ask him about if he's letting people pass more easily than others, but he dodges my questions by telling me to assume he'll always fight at his best.

I also ask the healing wizard about Aira's eye. I'm told that it may not have healed correctly, but it isn't hurt anymore, so plain healing magic wouldn't help short of ripping the eye out and spending months growing a new one with a dedicated wizard.

One of them managed to get in a good strike, while the other three had tricks up their sleeve.

Despite the trouble, Aira keeps trying to pass the test. She ends up spending the most time in the healing room. Between her sparring sessions and attempts, Hydril is easily able to anticipate Aira as Frais suspected. She's doing worse and worse over time. Her attempts are steady and she would almost appear motivated with how much she's fighting him, yet she doesn't seem enthusiastic at all, as though thinking that as long as she makes constant attempts, she can say she tried her best. She heeds everyone's advice, both mine and the people around her, but either she can't make use of it, or it isn't enough.

As most of the 54th passes, most of the class hasn't passed. I've heard that they're going to do a last ditch effort tomorrow of some kind, but it's been in private, so I don't know what it is. They've left to huddle in a corner in the sleeping room. I wondered if Aira would have been there since she would be invited as someone who needs to pass.

Instead, I find her alone in the dining area, after most people have had dinner.

The closest she's ever come so far in asking for help is asking for a sparring partner, and I've respected her by not telling her what she has to do.
>>
No. 887961 ID: bfb318
File 152833127808.png - (25.51KB , 800x800 , 1102.png )
887961

"Hello, Aira."
>"Hello."
"Were you not going to plan with the others, how to win?"
>"Everyone who passed did it by themselves, or with some advice. I hoped I could do the same, instead of whatever group effort the others are doing. I can go talk with them, if you think I should."
>>
No. 887963 ID: 7fad5d

"Try spitting on him and seeing if that technically counts, if there's no other option."
>>
No. 887964 ID: a363ac

>>887963
sure it might count but you really don't want to spit on your superior officer
>>
No. 887965 ID: 7fad5d

>>887964
dont be a coward
>>
No. 887967 ID: 6d6a2c

There's likely no harm in talking to them. From what I'm seeing, Hydril wants people to develop underhanded tactics. You are the assassin's branch, after all, and there's only so far that conventional fighting can take you. Even the name Red Maw came from a dirty trick, so if Hydril isn't impressed by Aira's tenacity and pure combat capabilities, he may be trying to encourage her to stop fighting fair.

Plus, think of how Firzel's attempt went. Hydril likely could have easily stopped what he was trying, but he let it happen anyways.
>>
No. 887968 ID: 86eb65

Well then my advice is to sit down with you and plan out some some tricky tricks.

Then think up every sneaky idea you can.

Like getting a practice sword and making it into lots of tiny throwing daggers for use in the fight.

Or grinding up some practice sword wood dust and putting it in Hydril's morning tea before a match then proving that he is already dead once the spar starts.

Or having her snap off part of her own sword and throw it to you in the crowd. Who then throws or smacks Hydril with it.

So many options for a clever assassin. Just make sure they fall within the rules of his spar. Has to be after he agree's and says his thing and such. (which the poison idea would count as a pre existing condition that you inflicted maybe?

I bet there are tons of great assassin knights who are not amazing with swords but can kill stuff just the same.
>>
No. 887969 ID: c0641d

Not really sure what to say, other than that she should have spent more time training and less time throwing herself at Hydril. As for tactics, I think the one she might find most agreeable would be to learn how to surge forward quick enough to get a hit in while tanking whatever hit Hydril gets on her like she usually does. Yeah... playing to her strength like this could actually work, assuming we can get her surging speed up enough. Maybe get her to switch out with a longer weapon to expedite things, assuming that’s a thing she can do.
>>
No. 887971 ID: c0641d

But yeah, real talk; she should at least attend the meeting and decide if it’s a good idea for herself.
>>
No. 887972 ID: 5fa661

I don't think technique advice is going to help here. She needs a reason to stop dicking around and actually put everything she's got into her attempts.
>>
No. 887973 ID: 91ee5f

>>887961
We know Aira can take a hit, so maybe she can quickly grab Sir Hydril’s weapon as soon as it hits her and then she tries to hit his hands before finishes saying the word stop?

Then again, if the problem is Sir Hydril can always tell what she’s going to do, then maybe she could practice trying to hide her mana to make it harder for Sir Hydril to predict what she’s going to do?

>>887968
>Poison Sir Hydril
That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! We’re not supposed to be trying to kill him, you idiot!
>>
No. 887974 ID: eeb7d9

Well, let's go with the basics. What has she learned from Sir Hydril. If he can lern from her, she has to had learned something from him. She might not be the stronguest, but she is very smart and perseptive.
What about you Fen, what have you lerned from Hydril yourself?
>>
No. 887977 ID: 3abd97

>>887961
No, she doesn't have to. I don't have a great deal of faith the group effort is going to be very successful.

>or with some advice
Well, you could offer to share what tricks you thought of, but ended up not needing to use.

I wonder if we could rig a training sword to shatter or explode when it takes a hit? Shrapnel should count as a hit.

>>887969
Rehashing what we might consider as a mistake doesn't really help.
>>
No. 887981 ID: cf5a32

On one hand, he might be waiting to see who will try to cheat in unwelcome ways, but on the other, the cheats that have happened so far were allowed.

Come to think of it, the rules stated that he had to accept a challenge, but not that only one person could participate. He'd may deny a group challenge, but nobody said the challenger can't have support. Ask Aira if she wants to try that out, you can certainly play support.
>>
No. 887985 ID: f3fe9b

There's no honor in a fight, you know. If you think the plan they've come up with is stupid, you don't have to go along with it.

Has she tried taking the eye patch off? Depth perception may help her a lot, even if her vision isn't as good as it used to be.
>>
No. 887989 ID: f3fe9b

Alright Fen, what would you say to your past self before you met Lily to motivate yourself? Maybe tell her she hasn't found true purpose yet, but she needs to prepare for it so she doens't end up like you were, wandering around criminal underbellies chewing the throats out of nobles.

You'll either motivate her or give her an idea for a cheap trick that Hydril won't expect out of her.
>>
No. 887990 ID: 7c90bc

I hate to say this, but this is probably the last time you are going to see Aira. She'll be kicked out of training and sent down to the necromile, and there's a significant chance she'll die before you finish training and join her down there.

So rather than look for some magical answer to the problem, why don't you spend some of what is likely the last of your time together with your friend.
>>
No. 887992 ID: 91ee5f

>>887981
>Come to think of it, the rules stated that he had to accept a challenge, but not that only one person could participate. He'd may deny a group challenge, but nobody said the challenger can't have support.
If you look right here: >>885075 , Sir Hydril says, “This week is not training for overpowering someone with numbers, or surprise attacks, or any such nonsense. That is for next week, if anyone passes."

So, no, we can’t do any sneak attacks nor can we gang up on Sir Hydril. Not until next week anyways.
>>
No. 887998 ID: bfb318
File 152834370288.png - (22.17KB , 800x800 , 1103.png )
887998

I contemplate various ideas, but I've already shared all of my spare ideas with Aira already.

Other like shrapnel or assisting people fighting Hydril have been tried already. He reminds us that this isn't about numbers, surprise attacks, or 'nonsense.'

>What have you learned from Hydril yourself?
It's been good reflex training as well as fighting someone with exceptionally long reach, but he hasn't taught much himself other than what I've learned from sparring him.

>What would you say to your past self before you met Lily to motivate yourself?
Most likely whatever my brother was telling me, but everything sounded so hollow before I met Lily.

I think if I had anything great to say about motivation, I would've said it the night before we came to Sir Hydril. It is true, though, that she could use motivation to try harder, since her attempts seem to just be attempts for their own sake.

"I'm sorry, I don't have any clever ideas, and all I can think of is desperate measures like spitting on him."
>"Maybe I'll try it, just to see."
"That may anger Sir Hydril if nothing else has so far."
>"That's fine. I don't like him. Maybe I just don't like people who are my boss."
"Have you tried taking the patch off, yet?"
>"Yes. I'm going to do it tomorrow. I get a bad headache if it's off for long, but it's worth it now."
"I don't have a lot of faith in the group meeting coming up with anything great, but I don't believe it would be harmful, either. You can hear what they have to say, and either participate, or don't."
>"I suppose."
"Just remember that most fights don't have honor included. Sir Hydril, if anything, seems to promote underhanded techniques."
>"I know, but it should be underhanded techniques I can do myself. If not... then the worst case scenario is that I get sent to the necromile with Valsano."

Instead of getting up and going to the plotting group, she turns her head back down to eat bread.

If Aira doesn't pass, then if I remember right, we have the day after tomorrow off. I can spend time with her during then before she goes down to the necromile.
>>
No. 888009 ID: 6d6a2c

She sure does seem resigned at this point. Perhaps speaking of how much you value her might act as some sort of external motivation. She's too good a fighter and far too good a friend for you to just let her accept a fate as terrible as being marched into the necromile.
>>
No. 888014 ID: 3abd97

>>Maybe I just don't people when they're my boss
Did you dislike Sir Orjin too, then?
>>
No. 888020 ID: b1b4f3

>>887998
Hmm. Maybe she could request a different test. The current one is a test of offense, basically, but she seems to excel at taking hits. If she can prove she can distract an enemy as strong as Hydril long enough for others to defeat it, wouldn't that be just as good as showing she can wound an enemy as strong as he is?
>>
No. 888027 ID: f3fe9b

Say you'd rather the group not get picked off one by one, at least, not down in a place like this.

Suggest biting. Hydril might call bullshit, but it's worth a try.
>>
No. 888035 ID: 0c3c2c

>>887998
Tell Aira the story of how you nearly died fighting your first noble and got your dumb nickname to let her know exactly how desperate you can get.

If she goes to the Necromile with Valsano, she's going to be thrown into the vanguard to identify danger by running directly into it, and I do not like that idea.
>>
No. 888045 ID: b38f01

Would she be against having a bout with you, with her eye patch off?
>>
No. 888059 ID: 85e67f

Part of the problem is Sir Hydril's range. I wonder if something like this could work: bait a strike, parry, grab his sword and pull to get close faster, kick. Definitely a cheap trick (pulling this in a real fight would injure one's hand) but could pass. 

Maybe pair it with a feint to look like trying to bite -- or outright try both.
>>
No. 888060 ID: 86eb65

More ideas:

1. Slice off a toothpick sized piece of a practice sword. Keep it on your tongue and spit it at him at just the right time. Just need to practice spitting it far beforehand.

2. If his claws did not count then getting hit in the clothes should not. So wrap up yourself in "armor" after borrowing some shirts. Just avoid getting hit on the head and knocked out. Should be able to take a blow or two to get into his range.

3. Along the same line as the clothes idea. Get a "armored" glove to grab his sword. All you have to do is tie it up for a moment.
>>
No. 888061 ID: 0c324b

Honestly I don't think any cheap tricks she could train for in a night would help. I think she should try and just not give up. If her determination is worth anything then Hydril should see it as such. If this test is truly to weed out the weak before the actual training starts, then I think