[Return]
Archived thread

File 122818394787.jpg - (434.95KB , 1024x768 , 710903561c1f49a958ddb46b894ddbcc.jpg ) [iqdb]
11901 No. 11901
"Patchouli, get back!"
"...don't need to tell me that much."
"Su--"

Before you can get another word out, Suika's already used your left shoulder as a springboard, obviously not patient enough to let you and Patchouli get out of the way first. It would really hurt if you had the time to think about it.

With a shout resembling "OORRYA!" Suika crashes into the spot the spider (you suppose it's a spider, anyway) was a moment ago. Since it's gone and vanished, now might be a good time to get Momizi back up. So thinking, you run to where she fell, the uneven slope taking some concentration to overcome. She's already getting up as you reach her, and you hear a loud impact behind you. Turning, there's the spider again, and Suika in a landing crouch a few yards to the side of it, between it and the tunnel entrance. Patchouli isn't in sight.

"Back, there's more coming!" Your attention shifts again as Momizi gives you a shove to punctuate her shout. Just as she said, you spot a large form moving in the darkness above you. Then the world spins and smacks you in the side, leaving Momizi on top of you, at the same moment as that second monster dropped onto the space you'd been standing in.

She's up and running at it. A quick glance in the other direction shows you Suika pulling on two of the first spider's legs, bound up in one of her chains, as the thing skitters backward without great success, its other legs flashing like blades.

You start preparing a binding spell. It's the most difficult kind of magic you can accomplish regularly, but if you have time...

[ ] _________________

>> No. 11908
[x] Flash Of Light. Gives us a little more time to use the binding spell and helps the party see a bit more clearly.
[x] While you prepare for the other spell, have Momizi guard you so that you may direct full concentration on your task at hand.
>> No. 11909
[x] Flash Of Light. Gives us a little more time to use the binding spell and helps the party see a bit more clearly.
[x] While you prepare for the other spell, have Momizi guard you so that you may direct full concentration on your task at hand.

Works for me
>> No. 11912
Wouldn't a sudden flash of light have the opposite effect though? If the area is dark, it would allow one to get a snapshot of what's going on, but otherwise you'd get pain, afterimages and your pupils would try to constrict afterwards.
>> No. 11913
>>11912

Lightens the place, blinds the spiders and stuns them. Why would we have a spell that works against us? Even so, as long as no one in our party is stupid enough(Suika, I fear for you...) to look directly into the light, and focus forward, or we shout at the last second "Close your eyes!" then all should be well, assuming that there is enough of a fading afterglow to take a quick look around us.

Of course, if we alert any other spiders(if this were a nest) then we can run the fuck away and have Suika cave-in the entrance while we go off in another direction, or decide to go back and up.
>> No. 11925
[X] Flash Of Light. Gives us a little more time to use the binding spell and helps the party see a bit more clearly.
[X] While you prepare for the other spell, have Momizi guard you so that you may direct full concentration on your task at hand.

I find it unlikely that these things are used to light of any kind. As far as any possible nest alerting goes, if we've raised enough of a ruckus for them to start ganging up on us like this, the concern strikes me as somewhat late in coming.
>> No. 11926
>>11908
>>11909
>>11925
Assuming this wins:

[ ] Hit Momizi's spider with the spell.
[ ] Hit Suika's spider with the spell.
[ ] Don't aim at either, cast it toward the room's center.
[ ] Don't aim at either, pour on the power and try to light the room. (Additional MP cost.)

Note: You cannot cast a spell while preparing another spell. They must be done sequentially.
>> No. 11927
[x] Bind the one on Momizi. Tank is not striker, give her the best she can, and Suika'll be pissed if you interfere.
[x] Patchouli needs to start pouring out some fire.
[x] Have Momizi guard you.

I told you guys, the fucking ceiling. Nobody fucking listens to me.
>> No. 11928
[x] Don't aim at either, pour on the power and try to light the room.

>>11926

What are our mana points right now? I'd like there to be enough to cast the light spell, the bind spell, and perhaps save a little healing power for later(you said healing doesn't take too much mana, right?)

If we run out of mana by pouring on power, I'd rather shoot a normal one towards the center of the room.
>> No. 11929
>>11928
>you said healing doesn't take too much mana, right?

At present, your attack magic has the least cost (normally), and binding has the most cost. Magic reserves are currently full.
>> No. 11930
Shit, where's patchy?
>> No. 11931
>>11927
I listen. Hell, I tried to tell them twice now you know your shit inside and out, but Anon never fucking listens. Oh, shut up, you know it's true.

[X] Don't aim at either, cast it toward the room's center.
[X] Use the MP you save to Bind the one on Momizi.

Patchy's doing her own thing, I'm sure. She'll be along.
>> No. 11932
[X] Don't aim at either, cast it toward the room's center.
[X] Use the MP you save to Bind the one on Momizi.

I blame a low diplomacy roll to convince others of your high perception skill. Should've burned your daily to get a buff to it.
>> No. 11946
>>11932

>daily

Please tell me you didn't just mentioned 4th edition.
>> No. 11957
>>11946

*sigh* There's a time and a place to debate over the fact that most fa/tg/uys need to grow the hell up and accept 4E, but it certainly isn't here.
>> No. 11966
>>11962

Wait, what?

Er... That's... not me...

The hell?
>> No. 12019
File 122833366949.jpg - (23.52KB , 400x419 , fang.jpg ) [iqdb]
12019
>>11946
>>11962
See you trollin'...

>>11927
1 vote for this

>>11908
3 votes for this

>>11926
Counting this separately, just needed it for clarification.

Will update at 5 votes for a choice, or with a reasonable combination of choices. Did I mention I was going to 5? I meant to mention I was going to 5.
>> No. 12073
[x] Flash Of Light. Gives us a little more time to use the binding spell and helps the party see a bit more clearly.
[x] While you prepare for the other spell, have Momizi guard you so that you may direct full concentration on your task at hand.

[x] Don't aim at either, cast it toward the room's center.
[x] Use the MP you save to Bind the one on Momizi.
>> No. 12080
[x] Flash Of Light. Gives us a little more time to use the binding spell and helps the party see a bit more clearly.
[x] While you prepare for the other spell, have Momizi guard you so that you may direct full concentration on your task at hand.
[x] Don't aim at either, cast it toward the room's center.
[x] Use the MP you save to Bind the one on Momizi.
>> No. 12167
File 122863668549.png - (502.23KB , 500x700 , 6c651dfd1707090103f52a88066afad1.png ) [iqdb]
12167
You get up. “Hold him off!”

“Of course!”

Momizi spared a glance back at you, but you're already looking away, toward the darkness further into the room. There, that should be the center. Now focus, focus! You hold up your right hand, making the signs with your left, and envision exactly the effect you desire. It's difficult to keep your calm as you spot a third opponent moving in the dark, but you're already there. You swing down your hand, and pure, golden light snaps out into the air like a whip, colliding and scattering in midair. Not enough to last, but enough to give you a good moment's view of the room.

As it looked, the floor is bowl-shaped, rising up again on the other side. The roof mirrors this, giving the impression of an earthen pot. There's an exit some twenty feet up the opposite wall, and between you and it are another three spiders, already jumping toward you all. And can they ever leap—that must have been how the one disappeared when you took your eyes off it.

Your eyes naturally follow the closest as it comes down near Suika. She must have noticed it coming during the flash, since she drops her chain to roll out of the way. As she does, a torrent of roaring flame comes out of the partially obscured entrance, striking both creatures. They immediately go mad, one escaping with Suika's chain still trailing from it, the other collapsing after several moments of agonized struggle.

You're forced to register this with a small fraction of your attention, already concentrating on the next spell. Momizi is doing less well, her sword not half as long as the furthest joint of the monster's sharp-edged forelimbs, and not quick enough to block every attack while getting close enough to strike her own. Worse, another spider lands down to surround her. She spins away, glancing blows off her shield and slicing the end from one of the first opponent's legs as she circles to keep herself between you and both of them. The symbols clear in your mind, the binding circle is nearly ready to be placed.

But this is too much, too quickly--

[ ] Hurry and finish, Momizi needs your help now, and then you can look to the rest.
[ ] That won't be enough, but Suika will! Direct her fury to one of Momizi's flankers, finishing it before it can reorient on another enemy.
[ ] No, Suika's in no position to move away without Patchouli. Get her to lend aid—her magic will do more than slow them down.
[ ] Hold on, __________________
>> No. 12172
[x] "Suika! Patchouli! All on Momizi's support!"
[x] Cast the fucking spell.
>> No. 12179
[X] "Suika! Patchouli! All on Momizi's support!"
[X] Cast the fucking spell.

Form up!
>> No. 12180
>>12167
[X] "Suika! Patchouli! All on Momizi's support!"
[X] Cast the spell.
>> No. 12181
[x] "Suika! Patchouli! All on Momizi's support!"
[x] Cast the fucking spell.
>> No. 12194
[X] "Suika! Patchouli! All on Momizi's support!"
[X] Cast the spell.
>> No. 12214
[x] "Suika! Patchouli! All on Momizi's support!"
[x] Cast the fucking spell.
>> No. 12243
[x] "Suika! Patchouli! All on Momizi's support!"
[x] Cast the spell FOR SIGMAR.
>> No. 12275
File 122894714432.jpg - (613.93KB , 1644x1905 , 7a96abbfa45afb7b12c2f0838b2c962b.jpg ) [iqdb]
12275
"Suika! Patchouli! All on Momizi's support!"

You voice and gesture the trigger, and concentric circles of light appear around the enemy, hovering parallel to the ground. Connecting lines and symbols burn themselves into the air as the creature struggles against the so-called "demon-binding circle," but it's already too late, as the ward builds up toward full power, where no force will be able to break into or out of it until it collapses.

Your sight of this is interrupted by a lance of pain as your right arm is struck with enough force to spin you around and send you reeling against the cave wall. Oh, right, you'd seen three spiders out under that flash of light. At least now they're accounted for, unless more arrived--but the screaming agony and freely flowing blood might be more important to consider at this point in time. You can see Suika closer to you now, and Patchouli has come out from the entranceway behind her, but it's difficult to focus on exactly what's happening.

[ ] Attack
[ ] Shout
[ ] Magic
[ ] Anemia
>> No. 12276
[x] Magic (Cast Flash Of Light at the spider nearest you[excluding the one you bound, if that is it]. Pour as much magic as you can into the attack)
[x] Anemia
>> No. 12278
[x] Magic - Divine Healing on self
[x] Shout - "Focus on the enemy. It'll take a lot more than this to bring me down."
>> No. 12300
[X] Magic - Divine Healing on self
[X] Shout - "Focus on the enemy. It'll take a lot more than this to bring me down."

Hopefully, this is so.
>> No. 12306
[X] Magic - Divine Healing on self
[X] Shout - "Focus on the enemy. It'll take a lot more than this to bring me down."

Bandwagon, don't fail me now...
>> No. 12315
>>12306
[X] Magic - Divine Healing on self
[X] Shout - "Focus on the enemy. It'll take a lot more than this to bring me down. We fight for Sigmar!"
>> No. 12366
[X] Magic - Divine Healing on self
[X] Shout - "Focus on the enemy. It'll take a lot more than this to bring me down."
>> No. 12367
[X] Magic - Divine Healing on self
[X] Shout - "Focus on the enemy. It'll take a lot more than this to bring me down."
>> No. 12546
File 122967459352.png - (391.55KB , 1013x750 , 611ad2955fda229d01e3ba864fa97e66.png ) [iqdb]
12546
You can't run. You can't hide. You can't give up. You can't collapse from shock. You can't fight, at least not well enough--your arm's damaged too badly. You can fix that. If you're healed, you can keep fighting. So that's what you'll do. This clear certainty cuts through the haze of pain like a blade.

"Focus on the enemy!"

As you speak, you're already moving. Staying out of reach of that thing--it's not impossible, even with your attention broken up as it is. As if compensating for the stunning blow you'd just suffered, your mind turns quickly, everything switching into place. The feeling of power flows through you, a conversion and application of energy, your body slowly reacting to it.

"It'll take a lot more than this--"

At the most basic level, the healing of wounds is not a complicated process. The body already performs this automatically. It is only to enhance that natural occurence that you now focus your attention. Though even if you can say that, it's still something most people cannot do. It seems it takes a certain kind of person to direct spiritual force to any effect. And even then, nothing is accomplished without faith. It's a gift that the weak of heart could never use.

"--to take me down!"

Blood retreats, skin closes, pain vanishes, and you know all of this without looking. Just as there's no time to sit down and recover, there's no time to look at what you already know to be true. It seemed simultaneously as if you'd stood there for ages, working your healing while paying attention to the spider's attacks, and that it was all over in an instant. It must have been something in-between, as the battle has continued a few steps without you.

One of the creatures lays dead, its head cleanly removed from its body. Another crashes to the ground as you glance in its direction, its body impaled on an earthen spike that surely wasn't there a minute ago, such a feature being easily noticeable on the otherwise smoothly sloping floor. Your ward, though put together in some haste, has held its charge at least up to this point, which leaves--one more. Directly in front of you, facing to your side, you see Suika give a final tearing jerk on her chain that rips two of the monster's legs off above the higher joint. Siezing the opening without thinking, you rush forward, staff in hand to jam into the relatively soft side of the creature between its head and body. Even without a metal head, you feel the hard wood sink into its flesh--but not fatally. The moment it begins to turn towards you, Suika is rushing forward, her incongruously massive-seeming punch caving in its head with a messy crunch and burst of ichor. That taken care of, timing the release of your sealing circle to let Suika and Momizi most easily finish off the surviving spider is trivial.

[ ] That was... something. Tiring. Sit down for a minute.
[ ] What else could be waiting for you here? Get a move on. This is dangerous.
[ ] Check on _________.
>> No. 12549
[x] Check on Momizi.
[x] What else could be waiting for you here? Get a move on. This is dangerous.
[x] Rest later, once you find a safe place to do so.
>> No. 12551
x] Check on Momizi.
[x] What else could be waiting for you here? Get a move on. This is dangerous.
[x] Rest later, once you find a safe place to do so.
>> No. 12552
[X] Check on Momizi.
[X] What else could be waiting for you here? Get a move on. This is dangerous.
[X] Rest later, once you find a safe place to do so.

Yeah.
>> No. 12553
[x] Check on Patchouli, ask how wounded the other two are.
[x] What else could be waiting for you here? Get a move on. This is dangerous.
[x] Rest later, once you find a safe place to do so.
>> No. 12561
[x] Throw your light spell around to make sure room's clear.
[x] WATCH THE FUCKING CEILING.
[x] Check on Momizi.
[x] What else could be waiting for you here? Get a move on. This is dangerous.
[x] Rest later, once you find a safe place to do so.
>> No. 12566
[X] Check on Momizi.
[X] What else could be waiting for you here? Get a move on. This is dangerous.
[X] Rest later, once you find a safe place to do so.
>> No. 12604
File 12298423567.png - (431.06KB , 565x800 , 0c9307570caac91076275605d06face8.png ) [iqdb]
12604
Suika crouches down for a closer look at the last spider to fall, then stands up and gives its head another stomp. It doesn't move. A quick look around shows that Momizi and Patchouli are both standing, the former checking the other fallen, the latter standing with her hands on her chest, breathing hard. Not exactly unusual. At the least, she doesn't appear injured--since she doesn't exactly deal well with injury, it's easy to tell. Momizi, on the other hand... maybe you should check on her.

The fluid dripping from the wide blade of her sword is clear, tinged a dirty a green, sticky, and includes bits of what may be hair or carapace. Her clothing is covered in dust, dirt smeared into her shoulders and arms from being knocked down earlier, and the fall before that. She's finished checking the corpses Suika hasn't, and is wiping down her sword edge as you approach. She looks up, the concern evident on her face mirroring some of your own thoughts.

Before you can speak, she's put her weapon (roughly cleaned of ichor) through her sash and run up to you, her balance on those oddly raised sandals as uncanny as ever. She stares hard at your right arm, then takes it in her hands and extends it. Unexpectedly quieted, you wait for her to finish. The fact that you were injured is impossible to hide as the clothing was ripped even where the wound has faded to a faint scar. She similarly looks over your left arm, your chest, and places her hands on your back, gently pushing.

Finally, "I'm alright, Momizi. But what about you?"

She shakes her head. "I'm fine." She lifts up her shield, rapping her other hand against it. As much wear as its taken, its still sturdy, though it's difficult to be as certain on the state of her body.

"I saw you get hit, you should let me--"

"No, really." An immediate response, accompanied by her hands on your shoulders. "You need to save your strength. You'll need it, and so will we."

You're not entirely convinced, and the thought stays with you even as you let the matter go for now.

Suika's gone toward the middle of the room, and Patchouli seems to have recovered, Momizi quickly walking to her. Your eyes go up to the ceiling suspiciously as you retrieve your torch, but nothing jumps down as you all walk to opposite exit, eager to remove yourselves to somewhere you can safely rest. The tunnel on the other side curves up and around, Momizi leading as before. Soon, you come to a fork, and Momizi holds up a hand for a halt as she moves to look down the left passage.

"A dead end, shortly." You continue down the right.

At last, natural light filters into the chamber ahead of you. Still cautious, you note the shafts in the ceiling reaching up to the surface above, beams of sunlight finding their way down. Patchouli stops to look at the rock formations, explaining in a low voice, almost absent-mindedly, that they were likely formed from a combination of rain and mountain runoff reaching the overhead shafts. While her interest in pursuing this theory is obvious, you manage to convince her quickly enough that there isn't time to study. After the next chamber, you reach the surface.

The cave entrance is fairly unobvious from the outside. Knowing it's here, you might be able to find it again--assuming you can get to its general position in the forest. There's nothing around at all but trees, vines, and brush, all grown closely together.

"Huh... there's no one here. No town, no road." Suika voices her disappointment.

"We may be able to see it from another vantage." Momizi adds.

[ ] Ask Momizi to climb high enough to see around.
--[ ] A tree will work for that. Just pick a tall one.
--[ ] There's a steep mountain right behind you. Just go up a ways.

[ ] Ask Patchouli to check what her magic can find.
--[ ] She can detect living things, can't she?
--[ ] At least, she can look for traces of magic--maybe monsters, too.

[ ] Momizi's injury doesn't leave your mind. Insist she let you heal her before you continue.

[ ] You're still not safe, and the risk of delay isn't worth it. Continue into the forest.
>> No. 12614
[x] Momizi's injury doesn't leave your mind. Insist she let you heal her before you continue.
[x] While you do this, have Suika climb a tree and look around.
[x] Ask if either Suika or Patchouli need healing.
[x] Continue into the forest.
[x] Find a small clearing to rest, and possibly have a small meal.

A meal I know is possible, either from rations or hunting. I'd have Suika turn into mist and survey the area, but I have no idea if her abilities have been revealed during the time we've traveled with her.
>> No. 12623
>>12614
Just as none of your companions can fly, it is safe to assume that their greater hax are inoperable.
>> No. 12624
[x] Momizi's injury doesn't leave your mind. Insist she let you heal her before you continue.
[x] Ask if either Suika or Patchouli need healing.
[x] While you do this, have Momizi climb a tree and look around.
[x] Continue into the forest.
[x] Find a small clearing to rest, and possibly have a small meal.

Momizi would still make the best scout since her ability to see far could still be applied to the situation as it doesn't require magic or hax to have really great eyes. I wouldn't mind letting Suika do it, but it'd be best to let the person with the best chance of seeing something do it.
>> No. 12626
[x] Momizi's injury doesn't leave your mind. Insist she let you heal her before you continue.
[x] Ask if either Suika or Patchouli need healing.
[x] While you do this, have Momizi climb a tree and look around.
[x] Continue into the forest.
[x] Find a small clearing to rest, and possibly have a small meal.
>> No. 12669
File 123006660299.jpg - (363.21KB , 1681x1005 , yosemite_u-shaped_valley.jpg ) [iqdb]
12669
"That's a good idea. One of these trees should give a good enough view. But first, I should take care of any injuries. That includes yours, Momizi. I insist." You hold up a hand to forestall her objections. "We're no longer in a fight, and the worse your health is, the more quickly you'll tire while we travel. That'll hurt us more than using a bit more energy."

She hangs her head, still unhappy, while Patchouli gives a slight nod of approval and Suika runs from one tree to the next, trying to see further into the forest. You sit on a large, conveniently sized rock, Momizi with her back to you, as she lifts her shirt with obvious reluctance. The chestwrap beneath is not obviously disturbed, but heavy, ugly bruising goes up her side and over her shoulder. You clear your mind and set to work.

A few minutes later, the sun having just ascended to directly overhead, and you're listening with rapt attention as Patchouli describes the medicinal uses she knows of several of the plants you and Suika spotted--none of which, fortunately, are currently necessary, as neither proved to be injured. Unusually, Suika is also attentively listening to the descriptions of dulling pain or emptying stomachs, Patchouli calmly explaining in her own unembellished style. Sitting as they are, the both of them see Momizi descend before you do. Whatever she saw from the upper canopy, she seems unworried.

"The mountains surround us on at least two sides. They curve and meet behind us, and may in front of us--though that is too far for me to tell what lays at the end. They look difficult to scale. I wouldn't attempt it with anyone unskilled--even with a guide, had we one. I saw no roads, but I spotted what looks like a village. It's--" she points. "--that way, to the northwest."

"If the valley is inhabited, then there should be a major entrance." Patchouli notes. "Or else, they've been cut off since whatever event landed them here. It is unlikely they could have arrived in the same manner we did."

"If they're human," Suika cheerfully adds.

[ ] Head to the village.
[ ] Explore deeper into the forest.
[ ] Explore the mountains' edge.
[ ] Go back into the cave.

--[ ] Now.
--[ ] Later.
>> No. 12671
[x] Head to the village.
[x] Ascertain it to be human, or at least friendly, before getting close.
[x] If unfriendly, head further into the forest.
>> No. 12672
[x] Head to the village through the forest. Do not take a road even if you find one.

Assuming there are crazy merchants and bridge trolls in this world, it would be better to avoid that shit until we reach civilization.
>> No. 12674
[x] Eat a Now & Later.
>> No. 12756
[x] Head to the village.
[x] Ascertain it to be human, or at least friendly, before getting close.
[x] If unfriendly, head further into the forest.
>> No. 12773
[x] Head to the village.

I don't see why not. I mean, we probably won't be attacked, despite having strange company.
>> No. 12795
File 123040935345.jpg - (201.51KB , 576x383 , RainforestCanopyLamirHills.jpg ) [iqdb]
12795
Should have included this in the previous choice.

[ ] While walking, talk to _______.
[ ] Go in careful silence.

[ ] Stop to eat.
[ ] Don't stop to eat.
>> No. 12796
[x]Head to the village.

[x] While walking, talk to Momizi.
[x]Stop to eat.
>> No. 12810
>>12672 Here, changing vote.

[x] Head to the village through the forest. Do not take a road even if you find one.
[x] Talk to Momizi
[x] Stop to eat
>> No. 12813
Adding:

[x] While walking, talk to Patchouli.
[x] Don't stop to eat.
>> No. 12818
File 123043235931.jpg - (100.57KB , 538x538 , 252221.jpg ) [iqdb]
12818
[x] Head to the village.
[x] While walking, talk to Patchouli.
[x] Stop to eat.

why not
>> No. 12829
[x] Head to the village.
[x] While walking, talk to Patchouli.
[x] Stop to eat.
>> No. 12832
[x] Head to the village.
[x] While walking, talk to Suika.
[x] Stop to eat.
>> No. 12847
>>12818
Mmmm, Nilla Wafers...
>> No. 12902
File 123062271032.jpg - (178.00KB , 736x811 , 58bb40748fa2d3ef4712b813dbda7cbc.jpg ) [iqdb]
12902
“We'll be careful, then.” you respond. “We can take a careful look before going in.”

“Wouldn't do to repeat past mistakes, yeah?” Suika continues. You can't remember having made such a mistake before.

“Let's go. I'll keep us to the path.” Momizi stands ahead in the forest's edge, beckoning, and you follow.

There isn't really a path, you note, but you can trust Momizi to keep to the same direction as she spied from above. Less so Patchouli, to whom you soon consider offering your staff as a walking aid. The ground slopes unevenly, dried brooks making ditches, and brush and leaves concealing the worst of it. You reconsider, and offer her an arm instead. After a brief pause and what may have been an embarrassed expression, she takes your hand, and you continue. Momizi stays just that short distance ahead of you, used to matching her pace to yours. Suika walks first a dozen paces to your right, then half a dozen to your left, looking around as attentively as Momizi, though with more good-natured curiosity than sobriety in her eyes.

After awhile, the ground evens and the going becomes easier. Patchouli lets go of you, but remains close enough for you to turn and speak without raising your voice.

“What do you make of this?”

“Do you mean the forest, the valley, the cave system we just left, or the journey here?”

After a moment, “The cave, to start with.”

“Its formation was irregular. Excepting some portions of it, the structure was unnatural. Though the creatures were... normal enough.”

“So... the target of some past attempt at extending a tunnel?”

She nods. “Whether what we encountered was there at the time is uncertain. It is also likely we did not find their home chamber, as we saw only adult specimens. If they really were spiders, a few thousand young wouldn't be strange to find.”

Grasping your arm, you feel through the sleeve's fabric to the healed flesh underneath. The thought of more of those things—countless more—fills you with unease. Though now whole, the empty feeling that follows your healing serves as a faint reminder of your injury. The idea of going back to look for more—is it worse than the idea of leaving them be?

“Of course,” Patchouli is continuing, “only a few would survive out of thousands. They need sufficient grounds to support themselves. Considering their number and size and the fact that no navigable passage seemed to exist back to our original entrance, they must have been using an area of this forest.”

That doesn't give you any more peace of mind. “So this forest... was their hunting ground?”

She shrugs, then adjusts her hat to stay put. “We haven't yet seen much of the animal life here, so it's uncertain. Though for there to be a village here...”

As she trails off, her eyes lose focus, and you gently steer her by the shoulder around a tree standing in the way. She would have noticed it in another moment. Probably. A glance ahead confirms you haven't lost Momizi, and a glance behind similarly shows Suika.

“...it's conceivable for merchants to travel into this valley from a small river village three days to the north-northwest, if a convenient pass exists through the mountains.” Once again, you're reminded that her knowledge extends to maps as easily as the written word. You're rather more fuzzy on cartographic concerns when there aren't roads to follow or single mountains and lakes to name. At least, you'd need awhile to work out where you are on a map now, without her help. Or Momizi's—she's good at noticing things. Suika... probably wouldn't care if she got lost, as long as she ended up somewhere else afterward.

The sun's lowered a noticeable amount, and you leave Patchouli's side to call Momizi to a halt once you come to a small clearing that looks sufficient. There's plenty of time, and you've made good progress, so it wouldn't hurt to eat. Everyone gathering together, you silently lament, as you've had much practice doing, that there's no such thing as food that travels well, fills the stomach, and has an appetizing taste. Food can be two of these things if you're fortunate, one otherwise. But this is only a complaint in passing—you've had more practice with trail rations than with hot stew and fresh-baked bread in the past few years.

Suika gives a sigh as she closes her pack. “There's hardly any animals around. No bigger ones, for sure—no deer or boars or anything meaty.”

“It would be surprising if anything stayed around long enough for us to get a good look at it.” Momizi, eating more slowly, hasn't finished.

“Not for me! I'm good with animals, y'know. I am. They always come around when I want to see them.” Suika just about pouts at Momizi's faint expression (harsh expressions being unlike her) of disbelief.

You finish eating with little more being said. Patchouli is the only one not finished when you see Momizi's ear twitch, and an arrow impacts into the dirt between the four of you, striking forcefully in a shallow angle that embeds it into the dirt, nearly hidden, but clearly marked from the slight spray. As Momizi shouts a call of alarm and you all rise, you hear harsh shouting from the forest, close enough to be in sight were it not for the trees, but far enough that you can't make out the words.

The world melts.

*******************************

Rivulets of blue sky join streams of green, flowing down into streams of brown, and from there into the ground. Your companions fade away like shadows shown to light, and your sense of self disappears with them. An impassive observer to fading light, deep night surrounding you.

Above, stars appear, and an enormous moon—far too close, as if standing just below it, on a mountain peak that breaches heaven. But below you there is only darkness and flame and the sounds of rumbling earth. And on a level with you, your vision rising to the border between sky and land, you see a chaotic maelstrom, all swirling storms and brief flashes of branching, almost patterned light. It fills everything between heaven and earth, but for one area that is filled with a deathly chill that strikes you as your eyes move over it.

[ ] Look to the moon. Grasp it. You must understand its secrets.
[ ] Look to the void. Feel its embrace. You must break this fate.
[ ] Look to the chaos. Join its dance. You must become it—or destroy it.
[ ] Look to the earth. Dive into the flames. You must halt its source.
>> No. 12915
[x] Look to the void. Feel its embrace. You must break this fate.

Hard choice.
>> No. 12916
[x] Look to the moon. Grasp it. You must understand its secrets.

I'm getting a "This is an important branching choice" from these which makes me hesistant to vote for anything without thinking more clearly about it but someone has to start the votes. Not too fond of the chaos/void options due to being a holy man. This leaves the earth and the moon left and I'd much rather aim high than low.

There is a lot more to these choices than meets the eye, but I suck at analyzing writing and coming to the thought processes behind them so if someone else is able to do that, it'd be appreciated.
>> No. 12919
[x] Look to the moon. Grasp it. You must understand its secrets
>> No. 12923
[x] Look to the moon. Grasp it. You must understand its secrets

i'm not in the mindset to analyze anything better than you just did, so i'll go with your reasoning.
>> No. 12925
[x] Looks to the moon. Squish it between your finger and thumb like a tiny grape...

Well? You know you were thinking about it.
>> No. 12926
>>12916

I'm going to go with a summarization of my thoughts.

Moon: Wisdom, White Magic; probably going to boost our protection, reflection and healing spells.
Void: Power, Psyche Magic; probably going to boost our sealing, ailment and skill reinforcement spells.
Chaos: Destruction, Black Magic; probably going to boost our more magically inclined offensive spells. Summoning magic, perhaps?
Earth: Reserved, Balanced Element Magic/Physical Strength; probably going to boost our elemental spells, such as Flash Of Light, etc. Also will most likely give us more physical power, making us a combat monk.
>> No. 12930
[x] Look to the void. Feel its embrace. You must break this fate.

Warranty voidan gaems
>> No. 12934
>>12926
You're on entirely the wrong track. Too much attention to the middle bits, not enough to the ends.

Of course, this is my fault for being cryptic. Even though the effect of this choice will be similar to some of the unclear choices back at the beginning.

I suppose I should get to writing, regardless.
>> No. 12939
File 123069841077.gif - (176.63KB , 511x472 , 1223997505937.gif ) [iqdb]
12939
You look up.

Everything falls below you, cloud and ground alike being replaced by sudden starscapes. That white orb fills the sky above. Now it's turning, the stars spinning, the dark side coming to face you. As you reach one hand upward, you hear a woman's laughter. A low, contemptuous sound, directed you know not where. What is that? What is being mocked? You hesitate.

“...the choice is set.” A familiar, masculine voice you don't remember ever hearing before.

You fall. Your back hits a cloud that rushes past you, obscuring all sights above.

*******************************

You land in a shallow ditch, a larger tree blocking from sight the direction of your attacker. At least the first one, in any case. You let go of Patchouli's arm, and look back across, over the half dozen arrows—all hastily aimed, you suspect, though you're no archer—studding the place you'd chosen to sit and eat, and across to where Momizi and Suika are taking cover on the clearing's opposite side.

Momizi catches your eye and signals with one hand, tapping her thumb to her collar and pointing in the direction of the arrows' origin. But she doesn't move immediately. You know as much about the situation as she does, so she waits. So... what do you know? That there are at least six enemies with bows, and they were yelling at each other in-between the first shot fired and the subsequent volley as you dived away. They may be different distances, and are certainly in different directions, though all within the same forward arc—all immediately obvious on recalling their attack.

[ ] Advance. Signal your companions to take no chances—this is a lethal situation.
[ ] Advance. Signal your companions to capture the enemy.
[ ] Signal a retreat. There is nothing to be gained by fighting here and now, in ignorance.
[ ] ____________
>> No. 12942
[x] Advance. Signal your companions to capture the enemy if possible.

Our only real liability in this situation would be Patchouli, assuming they aren't designed to be effective in close quarters combat.
>> No. 12943
[X] Advance. Signal your companions to capture the enemy.

Unorganized, possibly a scouting militia from the village. Possibly.
>> No. 12946
[x] Signal a retreat. Scurry off into the forest and proceed to the village through cover of the foliage.
>> No. 12995
[x] Advance. Signal your companions to capture the enemy if possible.

> [ ] Look to the moon. Grasp it. You must understand its secrets.
Erin GET? Probably not, but that would be nice.
>> No. 13008
[x] Advance. Signal your companions to capture the enemy if possible
>> No. 13038
I should mention here, though I think it should be obvious (though nothing is ever as obvious as thought), that particularly in combat situations, even where choices are provided for you, things will be better if these are accompanied by smartly constructed write-ins containing specifics on what to do. These are not required, as brother Judas will do what is obvious to him (a default behaviour which is not stupid), and his companions will do what they truly wish to do regardless of him (as much as they may listen), but a costly choice may become far less costly when the plan is well-thought. Conversely, a good choice may become more costly, if the plan is ill-thought. And, of course, any specifics pertaining to his three fellows must be given such that he can present them in turn.
>> No. 13063
File 123085787195.jpg - (106.45KB , 600x496 , 1211061667245.jpg ) [iqdb]
13063
You nod, point toward the enemy's position, and make a throat-slitting gesture while shaking your head. You're returned a look of mild confusion, so you follow up by pointing to the enemy again and clapping one hand forcefully around your other wrist, fist balled. Stop them, suppress them. This time you're returned a nod, and Momizi says something to Suika before crawling around her cover and forward.

You turn to Patchouli, uncertain for a moment what to ask of her in this situation. Finally (it seems), she speaks for you.

“They're disorganized—confused.”

“Yes—so we'll take prisoners, if we can. Better this way.”

She nods. “I can help with that.”

There's no time or need for further speech, as you already understand each other. You lead the way, making as best use of the forest's cover as you can, aware that your opponents are likely to be moving to get a better view of where you've gone. The slower you move, the more time they have to find you, and put the others in danger. The faster you move, the easier you become to find. After some crawling, you rush up to stand behind a tree directly in your path, and an arrow flies across the ground you'd just covered, hitting itself into the next tree further back. Behind you, your glance shows Patchouli frozen in sudden shock, her head not yet raised where you'd come up. Oh—

—no, she's coming out of it, her lips moving, faint breath over lips, fingers touching to fingers, gesturing, touching the soil—

The familiar battle cry of a horned berserker you know is accompanied by the sound of erupting earth in the opposite direction. There's movement past the trees, beyond vision.

“Distraction,”

You manage to catch her breathless explanation, and quickly move out in response. There was enough movement to give you a good idea where the archer stood. Staff in one hand, you move from one tree to the next, straining to catch sight of them before they catch you. And you succeed.

A dirty man. An wide-shouldered, thick-armed, unremarkable man. A worker or a soldier—at some point, but not now, you'd guess. A man in animal hides and scraps of heavier armor, metal scales from one shoulder, rigid leather plates over the other, and a half-tarnished, half-rusted cap over his head. Green and brown are smeared over his body, but this close, it's little use for him to hide. A bow is in his hands, and a scabbard at his side—filled, most likely.

The bow comes around as he sees you in the next moment, but it's true what they say—a bow is of little use at under six paces, and here you are at five. Your movement never ceases as your staff comes around in a whistling arc from the side, throwing his bow (hands still gripping it) to the side, and you step well within his range. As his fist pulls back—Smart fellow, no time to reach for the sword—your grip widens and, movement still unceasing, your left fist swings up to catch his chin with the staff's other end. You fairly barrel into him, taking a quick step back to avoid a brutal, unskilled kick at your kneecaps. But he's got one hand clutching at his head, and you know you've already won if you don't give him a moment's rest. A full circle over your head and you slam your staff into his helm, the smooth hardwood you're faintly proud of proving stronger than the brittle metal around his left ear. He rocks on his feet, and you follow with a second blow, and a third.

Before you can take the fourth, he collapses onto his back, hitting the ground with a thump that seems just slightly too small for such a man—or maybe that's the blood rushing in your ears, preventing you from hearing. And you do need to hear—there's another five of these men—probably. A moment, just a moment, you think, to calm yourself. Your eyes go out to the rest of the forest, and to the route you took to here from Patchouli.

And there she is, having followed you, and looking none the worse for the fight continuing around you. Whatever Suika's doing, it's easy to tell where she is, though Momizi's voice you can't hear. The two of you hurry on, no more arrows challenging you.

Ahead, you see what Suika's wrought, in the form of disturbed earth and two bodies, similarly clad to the first man, laying on the ground. There's little blood, thankfully—either they did understand your signal or—

No time for that. Suika's swinging a nine-inch thick, five-foot long piece of trunk like a great club, though hardly a sturdy one, showing signs of age and the attention of nesting insects. As you approach, gripping your own weapon determinedly, her club impacts the sword of a still-standing man, nearly taking it from his fingers, but instead shattering chips of wood around him. As he raises one arm to shield his eyes, Suika's fist plants itself in his stomach, ignoring the animal skins and cracking the leather covering it. In a few moments, the man joins his fellows on the ground without your assistance.

“Fortunate to find them together,” Patchouli remarks, and Suika just grins.

You aren't left long to wonder about the state of the still-missing Momizi, as she arrives sword-drawn, with a fifth man unarmed and adopting a posture of submission ahead of her. He looks unhappy.

“One got away. I see we're done here.” She says, simply.

Where to start? “Who are you?” “Where are you from?” “How many of you are in this forest?” “We don't mean any harm, really”? Sock him and leave?

Suika takes the opportunity to drink.

[ ] ____________
>> No. 13068
[x] Sock him and leave for the village.
[x] Take a forest path the rest of the way - avoid the road at all costs until you're at the entrance.
>> No. 13075
[X] Nod to Momizi. "Good work."
[X] Whispered, to Patchouli: "Make sure Suika didn't do any permanent damage to the others, all right?"
[X] To the guy: "Can I count on you to explain yourself, or do I need to go into specifics?"
>> No. 13076
[x] Nod to Momizi. "Good work."
[x] Ruffle Suika's hair and chuckle. "Your unique way of fighting never ceases to amuse me."
[x] Whispered, to Patchouli: "Make sure Suika didn't do any permanent damage to the others, all right?"
[x] To the guy: "Can I count on you to explain yourself, or do I need to go into specifics?"

There we go. Needed some attention given to Suika as well.
>> No. 13101
[X] Nod to Momizi. "Good work."
[X] Whispered, to Patchouli: "Make sure Suika didn't do any permanent damage to the others, all right?"
[X] To the guy: "Can I count on you to explain yourself, or do I need to go into specifics?"

good plan, well thought out, no negative outcomes. we're not gonna die.
>> No. 13123
New to this story here, but am already liking it.

[x] Nod to Momizi. "Good work."
[x] Ruffle Suika's hair and chuckle. "Your unique way of fighting never ceases to amuse me."
[x] Whispered, to Patchouli: "Make sure Suika didn't do any permanent damage to the others, all right?"
[x] To the guy: "Can I count on you to explain yourself, or do I need to go into specifics?"
looks good to me.

And now my take on an earlier point of mention:
Look to the moon. Grasp it. You must understand its secrets. - Imperishable Night?
Look to the void. Feel its embrace. You must break this fate. -Embodiment of Scarlet Devil?
Look to the chaos. Join its dance. You must become it—or destroy it. - ???
Look to the earth. Dive into the flames. You must halt its source. - Subterranean Animism
>> No. 13143
>Look to the chaos. Join its dance. You must become it—or destroy it. - ???
Immaterial and Missing Power
>> No. 13252
File 123130705129.png - (207.17KB , 422x600 , 1bebb93d416c33f0b87b01e4ec8c65dd.png ) [iqdb]
13252
You quickly whisper to Patchouli, "Make sure the others aren't permanently damaged, alright?" while taking a step forward, and give a nod to Momizi. Patchouli calmly inspects the bodies on the ground.

"Good work."

"Of course. This was no trouble."

Suika stops drinking long enough to say, "Hey, waddabout me?"

You chuckle and ruffle her hair, hand moving between her horns. (The motion feels... right.) "You did good. Your unique way of fighting never ceases to amuse me." Over her head you gratefully acknowledge Patchouli's thumbs-up sign with a slight nod. So Suika did manage to knock them out.

"You kinda sound like you're looking down on me, but I'll forgive you if you praise me more." Suika says in a sing-song voice, laughing and playfully punching you in the side. Haha, ow.

"You're wonderful, Suika. I could only take one of them, and with help."

"Why didn't you mention that sooner, brother? That leaves one unattended." Momizi frowns, and looks to Patchouli, who looks up from the third body to see her glance and point into the forest.

"I'll leave this one to you, then." She leaves swiftly, the man left standing all this time starting and then sinking back on his heels as Suika gives him a toothy grin.

"Yes. To you, now. Can I count on you to explain yourself, or do I need to go into specifics?"

Looking thoroughly dejected, he heaves a little sigh. "I'm Aram. M'brother Jonas, he's over there." He starts to point, thinks better of it, and makes a little gesture with an elbow. "We just joined up last winter. Not even s'posed to be here."

"Joined up with what?"

"The uh... I guess... bandits, we are." He seems to marshal his strength, his expression hardening. "Don't look at me like that. You don' know what our lives're like. We do what we have to do, and it's better 'n just laying down and dying. We get a good deal with a village and we can survive on just the forest, and nobody bothers nobody."

"And yet you attacked us. Why?"

"You aren't with the village, so's fair game."

"So the village..." Patchouli speaks up, then quiets again. You glance at her, then let her be.

Thinking for another moment, "You said you weren't supposed to be here, though."

"Uh... yeah, the boss..." He trails off, mumbling.

"Who's that?"

"You'll meet soon enough." Resentfully.

[ ] Have Suika loosen him up.
[ ] See what's taking Momizi.
[ ] Ask Patchouli for her thoughts.
[ ] Continue your questioning. Ask him ________.
[ ] ______ the unconscious bandits.
[ ] Get going.
>> No. 13253
[x] Have Suika loosen him up.

With lots and lots of alcohol.
>> No. 13255
[x] Have Suika loosen him up.
[x] Ask Patchouli for her thoughts.
[x] Continue your questioning. Ask him about the village.

Momi can handle herself I would hope, and then it would be best to learn what Patchy thinks and see if we can pry anything from him about our destination. Shouldn't really bother doing anything to the bandits. Not really in our moral code to do something like tying them and possibly leaving them to die, especially since they don't seem to be completely willing participants.
>> No. 13257
>[ ] ______ the unconscious bandits.

I'd the unconscious bandits.

[X] Have Suika loosen him up. In the get-him-piss-drunk way, not the pummel-him-until-he-talks way.
[X] Continue your questioning. Ask him about the boss and the village.
>> No. 13263
[x] Ask Patchouli for her thoughts.
>> No. 13571
File 123215029786.jpg - (27.03KB , 429x340 , 088532686e0e097265.jpg ) [iqdb]
13571
Not dead yet. Would have preferred clearer votes before writing. No real majority this way without pretending. Would have preferred more votes more.

***********************************

This won’t work. You won’t get anything from him if he’s this cautious. You look up to the sky, catching the sun’s position by the light’s direction, though you can’t see it directly. There’s enough time that even if you take it slowly, you should be able to reach the village before the dark closes in. It’ll be alright to take some time here, then. Hopefully time enough to try a different tack. You hold up a hand and gesture for the bandit to wait as you step over to Suika. You speak to her in a low whisper, the tilt of her head telling you she hears you fine.

“Get him to loosen up.”

“Ya mean…” She clenches a fist with a slight crunching noise.

“No, I mean drunk. In moderation,” you add, thinking that it wouldn’t really make anything better if he passed out.

“An’ if he won’t?”

“Encourage him strongly.”

She gives a little “hmph” as if to communicate a shrug, and walks toward the warily watching bandit just as you draw Patchouli further away, to talk comfortably. Having apparently finished mulling over whatever it was while you requested Suika’s help, she just looks at you, faintly questioningly. You return a similar look.

“A half-penny for your thoughts,” you start.

“Surely they’re worth closer to a crown than a sickle?” she responds straight-faced, prompting you to remember in a flash the coin stamping of the country you passed through before last—sickle, hammer, and crown.

“Surely they are.” Ah, there’s the ghost of a smile as she hears you. You’d continue, but you don’t have that much time to fool around. As if immediately understanding, she answers.

“We know at least that there is a well-known route to another town.”

“We do?”

“They realized we weren’t from the village. This means travelers are not an unexpected sight. Further, the village dealt with them peacably, at least to the effect of not bothering them directly. That they had to make a deal means that the bandit’s force is considerable from the village’s viewpoint. That they could make a deal means that their own power is on at least a similar level. If this is the case, the village is unlikely to have the resources to comfortably support themselves and the bandits. This means the bandits must have another source of income.”

Following the chain of logic, you nod. “They’re being paid by the village and taking from travelers.” Out of the corner of your eye you can see the man… Aram, that was his name, right? Right. You can see Aram having gotten past the stage of staring fearfully at Suika, and into the stage of allowing himself to be forced to drink from a cup Suika no doubt filled for him. What kind of man would just accept a drink from someone he was trying to kill minutes ago? But fear of the consequences of disagreement are more immediate than fears of drugging.

Patchouli is still talking. You take half a moment to run back through what you’d heard but not paid attention to. “But the village can’t be happy with this. Without access to outside trade, they’ll suffer even more. And if merchants cease to travel this way, the bandits will also suffer, and be forced to move. Either they’ve not been in this area long or there’s some reason for it—a profitable mining site, for instance.”

“Then what should our course be?”

Patchouli shakes her head. “I don’t know enough to say that. More answers are needed. At the least, it would be dangerous to face an entire band of highwaymen in a forest with which they’re familiar. This may be something better to avoid.”

Again you nod, though less happily. Leaving these people to their fate… Though it’s true that you’ve never met, and thus they’re only strangers, it wouldn’t feel right. You’re not like that… are you? You’re overwhelmed by a vague uncertainty for a moment. To your right, Momizi appears, dragging the bandit you left by holding his feet under her arms. Aram is looking unsteady on his feet. Out in the forest, a roaring human voice, inarticulate, angry.

One ear cocked, Momizi asks, “What was that?” Then, dropping her burden in alarm, “I think it’s coming this way.”

[ ] Flee.
--[ ] Take the half-drunk bandit with you.
[ ] Get ready to fight.
[ ] Get ready to plead innocence.
>> No. 13572
[ ] Flee.
--[ ] Take the half-drunk bandit with you.
>> No. 13574
[ ] Flee.
--[ ] Take the half-drunk bandit with you.
[ ] Don't forget Momi.
>> No. 13578
[ ] Flee.
--[ ] Take the half-drunk bandit with you.

Wouldn't want to have Suika's alcohol supply be used on anyone else but her and then have nothing come of it after all
>> No. 13580
[ ] Flee.
--[ ] Take the half-drunk bandit with you.
>> No. 13589
>>13571
[X] Flee.
--[X] Take the half-drunk bandit with you.

Reinforcing the wandbagon with Xs so we can ford the river.
>> No. 13590
[x] Flee.
--[x] Take the half-drunk bandit with you.
[x] Don't forget Momi.
>> No. 13621
> sickle, hammer, and crown
Communist kingdom, I see.

[x] Flee.
--[x] Take the half-drunk bandit with you.
>> No. 13623
File 123224953557.jpg - (234.18KB , 650x471 , b0b1d6643b6d88ea2f2aba821737d1b3.jpg ) [iqdb]
13623
>>13621
Two outta three. Didn't like crowns, them.

****************************************

You reach a quick decision.

“Grab him and run!”

Suika is the first to recover from her surprise. She throws her shoulder into the startled bandit, who starts to double over, ending up draped over her (too narrow for this to look like it would work had you suggested it) back. Patchouli looks around uncertainly for a moment before you and Momizi take her hands and all of you run. Away, directly away, from whoever was making that noise. Between the trees, across the clearing, down the hill, over the ditch, up the slope, and on and on. You don’t know what it is you’re running from, but now that the decision’s made, turning around and waiting for it to catch up and show itself to you seems an absurd suggestion.

At last, you’re tiring. Momizi and Suika seem fine, and you can’t help begrudging their energy before noticing how Patchouli’s dragging, unable to keep up without assistance.

Aram’s cursing and complaining ineffectually from over Suika’s shoulders. Something about kidnapping.

[ ] Stop and rest.
[ ] Continue the way you were going.
[ ] Go back toward whatever-it-was and the village.
[ ] This is the forest you passed on your way in, isn’t it? Turn to one side, into the unexplored.
[ ] Go back toward the village, circling wide to avoid your previous trail.
>> No. 13633
[x] Stop and rest.
[x] Interrogate while he should still be drunk.
[x] Go back toward the village, circling wide to avoid your previous trail.
>> No. 13640
[x] This is the forest you passed on your way in, isn’t it? Turn to one side, into the unexplored.
[x] Go back toward the village, circling wide to avoid your previous trail.
>> No. 13666
This village is definitely still worth investigation, and as basically the first possible significant location we can choose to go to after party choices, it is just as definitely important. Quest time!

[X] Stop and rest.
[X] Interrogate while he should still be drunk.
[X] Go back toward the village, circling wide to avoid your previous trail.
>> No. 13675
File 123235454881.jpg - (9.82KB , 285x264 , catphoto.jpg ) [iqdb]
13675
“I think…”

Suika holds the man’s jaw shut for a moment. You all hold still, silent. The only sound remaining is your breathing, seeming so loud you try holding it.

“…we lost them.” And you let out your breath. “We’re fine.”

Suika relaxes her hold, and sets her cargo down. Momizi looks the way you’d run from, watchful of pursuit even now. You sit down on your heels, back against a tree, and glance at Patchouli, leaning with both hands against the bark of another. Your captive—did you really just kidnap an armed (though now disarmed) robber and flee?—looks ready to start complaining, but Suika puts another drink in his hands, and he gulps down the clear liquid unself-consciously. Then… maybe you’d better ask him some more questions, while you can.

“Aram,” you call him by name. “Tell us about the village.”

“Whas to say? Iz a village. Got people an’ houses an stuff.”

“What kind of people are they?”

“Normal people. Not much to do, ‘cept tan hides, I guess. Don’ go out much. Ach, my throat’s drying up!” Suika obliges him. Patchouli mutters something about hunting economies.

“And—what kind of person is your boss?” you try to ask in as normal a tone as you can muster, but still he gives you a hard look, as if from the import of the situation piercing the haze of drink still developing over him.

“I won’t rat out my friends, people who took me an’ Jonas in when we’d naught but our bows an’ dat unhealth-ish outlook on lawmen. Nor would any of us—any, hear?—blab about bloody silver.” Rather than relaxing, as his speech disjoints and starts to slur, his posture becomes more combative. While wondering what his last words had meant, you also realize he might be a violent drunk—which would make things a bit more difficult. Still, it isn’t too late to keep trying.

“Not saying to blab. Not a lawman. Just a traveler, no reason to stay around. Just a friendly meeting—”

He laughs, “Nothin’ friendly here, and if you’ve got no reason, ya stay out an’ don’t ask.”

You quietly sigh. Maybe it would’ve been better to let Suika beat him after all, but now you don’t have the heart to order the beating of a drunken prisoner. Or if you’d been more of the silver-tongued variety—but precious little chance for any monastery’s boy to have that kind of life. Well, anyway, there’s no use bemoaning it. One last question, then, if it works.

“What was that about silver?”

He blinks. “Huh?”

“You said you wouldn’t talk about the silver.” A treasure cache, maybe? Patchouli did say there had to be a reason the bandits were here, didn’t she? A hunting village shouldn’t have enough importance for traders.

“No, I—what? I don’t—hey, I don’t know wha’ tha’s about.” A predictable response, but nonetheless discouragingly uninformative.

**************************************
I was going to keep writing, but it’s late. This covers two of the three selections voted for. I will continue tomorrow (with [X] Go back toward the village, circling wide to avoid your previous trail.) if nothing else is voted for. That is, you can vote now, or not.
>> No. 13695
[X] Go back toward the village, circling wide to avoid your previous trail.
>> No. 13719
File 123243447665.jpg - (150.58KB , 706x1017 , 17e83bc5856cd589d2d35dfd19e26a0a.jpg ) [iqdb]
13719
A short while later, and you start moving again, captive in tow. He walks unsteadily, Suika frequently pushing him from behind. With her there, it’s unlikely for him to try doing anything. Though… all the others got away, so maybe it doesn’t matter if you let him go, as well. No other obvious questions come to mind to ask him, and he is liable to slow you down. Thinking about it for a minute, you come up with the vague idea that the village may want him. Momizi turns back to you with a questioning look.

“Why are we going this way, brother?”

Ah, you did forget to explain. “We’ll still head to the village, but not by the path we were using. We’ll draw a half-circle around to the east to keep away from what we ran into before.”

She nods. It’s a simple enough plan, and now that she knows, she’ll be able to keep you heading the right direction better.

Ever so gradually, your path curves, and the sun crawls downward just as it moves from your back to your side to your fore. You pass trees and more trees, rocky breaks and low streams, animal paths criss-crossed by gnarled roots and interrupted by fallen limbs, shallow ditches and embankments. You keep moving. Before the sun has come to face you, it dips past the mountains at the far end of the valley, reducing everything quickly to the darkness of starlight. Momizi holds up a hand for a halt, though your next rest shouldn’t be for awhile.

“We’re nearly there.”

You nod, and turn to look at the rest of your party. Suika, her endurance endless, has been practically carrying her drunken charge for several miles and looks none the worse for it. You take a moment to consider your own condition, finding no particular complaints. There’s still some left to both your physical and magical reserves, for now. As for Patchouli—she seems to be weathering the trek well, it being no harder than usual, but you have no idea how much she’s capable of at this point. You know her limits are much greater than yours, in terms of magic… just how high are they? But back to the matter at hand.

You come to the edge of the woods, and stand by Momizi, the others hanging back. From here you’re in fairly good cover, but still able to clearly see what’s ahead of you. A wide hill—artifical, maybe?—circled by wooden palisades long enough to enclose a small town. Buildings up to two stories in height are visible over that wall of stakes, the wall itself reaching most of that height. The path up is clearly visible, an earthen ramp spreading wide, but only conveniently flat and uniform enough for a single wagon with paired draft beasts to draw it up to the gate at the top. Closed, you notice immediately, with fires lit from the top of the small, wooden tower serving as its gatehouse. If there are people up there, you’re too far to see them. The sun has already set, so there’s nothing particularly odd about this, nor about not seeing any movement outside it. But this does present a slightly awkward problem for a traveler, if the people within aren’t feeling hospitable.

[ ] Go and call up for permission to enter.
[ ] Go up and take a closer look at the gate.
[ ] Scout around the village with Momizi.
--[ ] On second thought, just send Momizi. Meanwhile, __________.
--[ ] On second thought, scout on your own. Leave instructions to ___________.
[ ] Leave this place. Go __________.

[ ] Let Aram go.
[ ] Leave Aram with Suika.
--[ ] …as your (perhaps unwilling) guest.
--[ ] …as a token to hand over to someone in authority.
[ ] _______________.

*************************

I hope the logical organization of the selections is apparent, in terms of multiple votes and counts-as.
>> No. 13722
[x] Go and call up for permission to enter.

If they refuse a holy man, then something is definately up. If we mention we also have three "weary" female companions with us, and they still turn us down, then even more suspicious. Just don't mention the fact that Patchy is the only one whose appearance is completely human.

[x] Leave Aram with Suika.
--[x] …as a token to hand over to someone in authority.

This'll probably cause issues if they do indeed have a deal, but we can pass it off as someone gave us trouble and we defended ourselves. With a good night's rest, we can easily take on whatever remains of the bandits if they decide to attack the village or something.
>> No. 13726
[x] Have Patchouli stick with Momizi and send them both to scout around for any signs of danger. Tell them to call out for regrouping the moment they run into any trouble.
[x] Lightly knock out Aram.
[x] Go and take a closer look at the gate. Have Suika come with you - Aram draped over her shoulder. He is our guest; only a prisoner if recognized as one.
[x] Call up for permission to enter if everything seems alright. You are a priest with an unconscious man and several tired ladies. Who would turn you away?
[x] If there are any problems, you will flee with Suika and call for the others to retreat. If there are none, you will fetch up your party and enter.
--[x]The calls with either be a fierce roar from Momizi/Suika, or a magic signal from you/Patchouli.
>> No. 13727
[x] Have Patchouli stick with Momizi and send them both to scout around for any signs of danger. Tell them to call out for regrouping the moment they run into any trouble.
[x] Lightly knock out Aram.
[x] Go and take a closer look at the gate. Have Suika come with you - Aram draped over her shoulder.
[x] Call up for permission to enter if everything seems alright. You are a priest with an unconscious man and several tired ladies. Who would turn you away? And if there are any problems, you will flee with Suika and call for the others to retreat.
>> No. 13732
[x] Have Patchouli stick with Momizi and send them both to scout around for any signs of danger. Tell them to call out for regrouping the moment they run into any trouble.
[x] Lightly knock out Aram.
[x] Go and take a closer look at the gate. Have Suika come with you - Aram draped over her shoulder. He is our guest; only a prisoner if recognized as one.
[x] Call up for permission to enter if everything seems alright. You are a priest with an unconscious man and several tired ladies. Who would turn you away?
[x] If there are any problems, you will flee with Suika and call for the others to retreat. If there are none, you will fetch up your party and enter.
--[x]The calls with either be a fierce roar from Momizi/Suika, or a magic signal from you/Patchouli.
>> No. 13809
File 123270473831.png - (313.74KB , 520x610 , 8b3697fad81e6d58317753236993099e.png ) [iqdb]
13809
You don’t know what this village holds. Aram only said that it was normal, but even if that’s right, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be safe here. There isn’t particular evidence that it’s dangerous, but… it is a village practically cut off from the outside, in a valley holding monsters (sympathetically, your arm throbs) and bandits. And those bandits aren’t exactly enemies of the village, at least openly. They’re probably still enemies, beneath that. Probably. Patchouli said so, didn’t she? Momizi turns to watch you, awaiting your judgement.

Shortly, you outline your plan to your companions. “Momizi, you take a look around outside the walls and nearby for any trouble. Patchouli, you go with her. At the first sign of trouble, call for us. We’ll do the same. If there’s no trouble, we go in.”

When they’ve gone, Momizi giving you her assurances to return quickly, you wait a moment as Suika taps one foot next to you, horn hovering dangerously close to your side. Not that you’ve ever seen her hit something with her horns, but they do look rather sharp. While such irrelevant thoughts flit through your mind, Patchouli disappears from your field of vision, and Suika pokes you with a finger.

“Hey, we’re going, right? Around the other side?”

“No, we’ll go up to the gate.”

“Bringing him along?” She jerks a thumb at Aram.

“Yes, but we’ll need him to sleep in the meantime.”

“Ohh. No problem, then.”

After a few minutes and a surreptitious strike against the bandit’s person (now again draped over Suika’s jaunty form), you’re walking up the ramp to the gate. The walls seem to grow up about you as you go forward, towering over you imposingly, larger than they should be as you stand beneath the gate. That’s ridiculous, though. They can hardly be fifteen feet tall. The movement you saw at the top, on the other hand, was probably real—if indistinct.

“Hail, up there! Travelers, seeking rest!”

You hear a voice call back, “Hold, down there.” You wait a few moments as nothing happens.

“Hail! Who goes there?” A second voice arrives, and you struggle to make out the figure above you. Though firelight shines from the walls, they aren’t positioned to make it easy to see the guards. A woman’s voice, though the first had been a younger man, hadn’t it? Her clear, commanding voice carries down easily in the still night, and you respond

“I am Judas, a priest, as it pleases you. I accompany several tired travelers, and we seek a place to rest.”

“A moment, please.”

It’s longer than a moment, but not long enough for you to consider how to quickly regather, before anything happens, but at last the stout gates swing outward. You begin to step forward, then pause in the sudden light of lanterns, seeming so much more than torches in these conditions. As well, you must first take in the sight of the woman standing before you impassively. Very tall—at least for a woman—with long hair that shines through red, the front held to twin braids framing her face. She wears a cloth cap of faded forest, while the rest of her clothing is the more familiar, drab colors, gray to brown to gray, of the low classes everywhere. Somewhat baggy pants, shirt, vest, a wide cloth belt, and a neck wrap adorn her. She’s apparently unarmed, but bears that soldier’s brand of confidence, of one with the will and the ability to fight. And her movement, in taking a step toward you—even Momizi’s sense of discipline doesn’t let her move with that grace, and even more, that image of bridled power.

Suika, you see from the corner of your eye, is already getting excited.

***********************************

Dang. Did it again. Too late to finish this update, though the [X] ...fetch up your party and enter. bit has yet to be done. If no change of course is suggested (i.e., noone votes), I will continue the scene tomorrow until that point is executed.
>> No. 13816
File 123274961847.jpg - (219.77KB , 1280x1024 , 1d574c4fb13b6cd7e00cef497b940200.jpg ) [iqdb]
13816
“Welcome to Devern.” Strange, she doesn’t sound very welcoming. She and Suika lock eyes. Where are Momizi and Patchouli? Saying that they’re scouting around the village probably wouldn’t go over well, but you need to get them here before the guards close the gates again.

“Two of our group are further behind us. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll see them here.”

Her eyes turn back to you, giving you a hard look. Even coming to a town in at night, and even if it were under immediate threat, this suspicion isn’t something you’re used to, and she leaves you unnerved even as she nods assent. Turning, Suika’s expression doesn’t leave you feeling any better. It’s as if only the weight of the body over her shoulder prevents her from jumping forward.

Mercifully, you find Momizi quickly. She’d noticed the gates opening and was already on her way to meet you. She and Patchouli have nothing to report from their time spent circumnavigating the area. The three of you hurry back toward the entrance.

“Brother, what is happen—” “Brother Judas, who is she?” You can’t respond or even pay full attention to their questions, the sight before you fully occupying your thoughts. How could things come to this the moment your back was turned—how could it happen so quickly? You’d bury your face in your palms if this wasn’t happening right now, right in front of you.

Aram’s leaning against the wall, still out cold. Suika is rushing the gate guard. Then she’s flying forward, spinning in the air, and the guard drops low and swings an arm, sending the much smaller Suika sailing high up into the air. She tumbles, coming down again feet-first, and the guard slides to the side and turns the movement into a spin, one leg stretched to strike with the heel, impacting her stomach. Undisturbed, Suika wraps her arms around the leg before it can retract, digs her own feet into the ground and swings around twice to throw the guard into the nearest wall. She hits it with her back and feet, legs bent, dropping to the ground from five feet above it.

You should probably do something.

[ ] ______________
>> No. 13817
[x] You doubt that they'll stop if you shout at them.
[x] So when in doubt, use magic to do the talking for you.
[x] Use Flash Of Light with enough power to turn the night sky into day.
[x] After you get their attention, you say "Excuse me, but I don't believe that this is really the appropriate time to be fighting. What happened, anyway?"
>> No. 13818
[x] You doubt that they'll stop if you shout at them.
[x] So when in doubt, use magic to do the talking for you.
[x] Use Flash Of Light with enough power to turn the night sky into day.
[x] After you get their attention, you say "Excuse me, but I don't believe that this is really the appropriate time to be fighting. What happened, anyway?"
>> No. 13819
[x] You doubt that they'll stop if you shout at them.
[x] So when in doubt, use magic to do the talking for you.
[x] Use Flash Of Light with enough power to turn the night sky into day.
[x] After you get their attention, you say "Excuse me, but I don't believe that this is really the appropriate time to be fighting. What happened, anyway?"
>> No. 13839
[x] You doubt that they'll stop if you shout at them.
[x] So when in doubt, use magic to do the talking for you.
[x] Use Flash Of Light with enough power to turn the night sky into day.
[x] After you get their attention, you say "Excuse me, but I don't believe that this is really the appropriate time to be fighting. What happened, anyway?"
>> No. 13946
[x] You doubt that they'll stop if you shout at them.
[x] So when in doubt, use magic to do the talking for you.
[x] Use Flash Of Light with enough power to turn the night sky into day.
[x] After you get their attention, you say "Excuse me, but I don't believe that this is really the appropriate time to be fighting. What happened, anyway?"
>> No. 13951
[x] You doubt that they'll stop if you shout at them.
[x] So when in doubt, use magic to do the talking for you.
[x] Use Flash Of Light with enough power to turn the night sky into day.
[x] After you get their attention, you say "Excuse me, but I don't believe that this is really the appropriate time to be fighting. What happened, anyway?"
>> No. 14395
Update soon Crue~
>> No. 14404
File 12348531231.jpg - (149.76KB , 589x800 , 844e74015ccf95f0c0b9fa1859048ba4.jpg ) [iqdb]
14404
Long story short, my work load sucks.

I couldn't get what should have been the second part of this to work, but in the interest of posting something, here's an update.

************************************

You doubt that they’ll stop if you shout at them. You don’t know who this guard is (it would have been nice to get her name), but shouting at Suika has never done any good in the past, no matter where the shouting came from. Rather, she was ever the one to ignore all words, studying only action. But you can work with that—just let your actions speak for you. However… to step into the middle of this fight would be impossible. Even in the mere mental moment it’s taken you to reach this conclusion, you see the guard stamp the ground, her unnaturally rigid, fluidly adopted stance nothing like any brawler you’ve seen, and Suika be sent to the ground tumbling, unbalanced, by a hand-strike too fast to clearly see its form but for when it returns to her side. Then the little one’s up again, flipping to her hands and vaulting off the ground from her laying position, a chain swinging up in a full circle to follow her hand, then extending past.

A stern expression crossing unbidden over your face, you correct that earlier thought, specifying. To speak is useless. To hold them back is impossible. So let the magic step in for me. Your mind clears automatically, leaving only hard will and gentle faith, together a driving purpose. You’ve exerted yourself before, today, but this much additional labor is nothing so grand. It’s just a pure application of the light—a simple invocation given strength. The symbols in your mind glow.

The guard is stamping down on the chain, the ground arresting its motion as it coils beneath her foot. A yank from Suika sends the chain coming back up, the oddly shaped weight on its end trailing. Her foot lifted, the guard somersaults to the side, one arm spinning as her fingers touch earth, transforming the movement into a spinning kick that Suika tries to grab onto as before, but only succeeds in blocking. She staggers a step to the side.

In that quickened moment, the power flows.

Your hand snaps out, directing, focusing, concentrating your attention on that point, and the power makes the jump from you to the air, coalescing and exploding violently, but with no sound at a level to accompany such lightning. The light fills the air, ground, and sky, casting its brief, brilliant glow to all corners of sight. Prepared for both its timing and its strength, you protect your own eyes, but anyone looking directly at that point above and between the two combatants would be in danger. A corner of your mind wishes there’d been time to warn the two beside you, but there wasn’t—and the blindness should wear off shortly, anyway. With that in mind, you waste little time before speaking up.

"Excuse me, but I don't believe that this is really the appropriate time to be fighting. What happened, anyway?"

Now that you look (the spots do fade quickly, but you were spared most of it), the guard has turned her head dumbly at the sound of your voice, her jaw slackened in surprise. Suika is rocking side to side on her heels while rubbing her eyes with one hand, the other still clenched into a fist. The guard manages to speak first.

“Nothing happened, and she picked a fight regardless.”

“Hey! I mean ow, my head—gave it an ache, Judy. I mean I didn’t just pick a fight, I made a challenge, as my right!” Did she just call you by a girl’s name?

“How is it right?” Mostly recovered, the guard speaks in irritation and confusion.

“Someone like you? Don't play innocent—I bet you've taken on every challenger you've met in the last decade. When there's someone strong like that, it's any fighter's right to challenge 'em, so of course they will!” Suika speaks with complete sincerity. You’ve never heard of this tradition before (as much as you can understand of it), or at least not among anyone of higher reputation and standing than a tavern drunk. The only response to this is some grumbling and a dark look.

[ ] _________________
>> No. 14408
[x] "That is all very well and good, but I highly doubt that it is in your best interest to make angry the only one allowing us refuge after two large battles, especially when the rest of your team are not quite as indestructible as you are" say this with a stern voice and expression, so that she gets the point - you don't approve, at all.
[x] "Excuse me, miss.. um, guard - I apologize terribly for my friend's rude behavior. It has been a very tiring day for us, and I believe the heat has finally gotten to her head. I dearly hope you will forgive us for this. Er.. by the way, I haven't asked you your name; surely it must be fitting for fighter of your magnificent skills"

Sugarcoat it, you honey-mouthed priest.
>> No. 14409
[x] Walk over to Suika and ruffle her hair, yet again. "Suika, there's a time and a place to issue challenges and in the middle of the night after several battles certainly isn't either. If you want to challenge her, then with her permission, do so in the morning when you're at your best form. We both know you're capable of much more than what you were displaying."
[x] "Excuse me, miss.. um, guard - I apologize terribly for my friend's behavior. It has been a very tiring day for us, and I believe it might have had an effect on her sense of judgement. I dearly hope you will forgive us for this. Er.. by the way, I haven't asked you your name; surely it must be fitting for fighter of your magnificent skills if you were able to hold Suika off."

Yay for sugar coating, though you were directing it at the wrong person.
>> No. 14414
[x] Walk over to Suika and ruffle her hair, yet again. "Suika, there's a time and a place to issue challenges and in the middle of the night after several battles certainly isn't either. If you want to challenge her, then with her permission, do so in the morning when you're at your best form. We both know you're capable of much more than what you were displaying."
[x] "Excuse me, miss.. um, guard - I apologize terribly for my friend's behavior. It has been a very tiring day for us, and I believe it might have had an effect on her sense of judgement. I dearly hope you will forgive us for this. Er.. by the way, I haven't asked you your name; surely it must be fitting for fighter of your magnificent skills if you were able to hold Suika off."
>> No. 14420
[x] Walk over to Suika and ruffle her hair, yet again. "Suika, there's a time and a place to issue challenges and in the middle of the night after several battles certainly isn't either. If you want to challenge her, then with her permission, do so in the morning when you're at your best form. We both know you're capable of much more than what you were displaying."
[x] "Excuse me, miss.. um, guard - I apologize terribly for my friend's behavior. It has been a very tiring day for us, and I believe it might have had an effect on her sense of judgement. I dearly hope you will forgive us for this. Er.. by the way, I haven't asked you your name; surely it must be fitting for fighter of your magnificent skills if you were able to hold Suika off."

Nice.
>> No. 14443
[x] Walk over to Suika and ruffle her hair, yet again. "Suika, there's a time and a place to issue challenges and in the middle of the night after several battles certainly isn't either. If you want to challenge her, then with her permission, do so in the morning when you're at your best form. We both know you're capable of much more than what you were displaying."
[x] "Excuse me, miss.. um, guard - I apologize terribly for my friend's behavior. It has been a very tiring day for us, and I believe it might have had an effect on her sense of judgement. I dearly hope you will forgive us for this. Er.. by the way, I haven't asked you your name; surely it must be fitting for fighter of your magnificent skills if you were able to hold Suika off."
>> No. 14445
[x] Walk over to Suika and ruffle her hair, yet again. "Suika, there's a time and a place to issue challenges and in the middle of the night after several battles certainly isn't either. If you want to challenge her, then with her permission, do so in the morning when you're at your best form. We both know you're capable of much more than what you were displaying."
[x] "Excuse me, miss.. um, guard - I apologize terribly for my friend's behavior. It has been a very tiring day for us, and I believe it might have had an effect on her sense of judgement. I dearly hope you will forgive us for this. Er.. by the way, I haven't asked you your name; surely it must be fitting for fighter of your magnificent skills if you were able to hold Suika off."
>> No. 14447
the ruffling seems really out of place after that
>> No. 14448
Eh, I find it hard to get mad at Suika... And besides, it's not like insulting Suika was a proper thing to do anyways as her team mate. She was just having fun.
>> No. 14997
At this point, i have to wonder whether this story's been abandoned...
>> No. 15003
It's not abandoned... Crue just had a bunch of things happen to him during his current semester and as such, the amount of time he has to write for fun, amongst other things, has gone down immensely.
>> No. 15024
temporary abandonment leaves room for joy when it finally returns.
>> No. 15028
Now if only I were more certain about where the other story written by someone in my gaming group stood... Damn Inquisitor, being a lazy writer.

I'll try to see what I can to in regards to having Crue update though since at least writing an update to the story is something that can be done gradually in his free time.
>> No. 15756
File 12372819791.png - (310.16KB , 500x652 , 852a428f7f953c425edab52ab147cceb.png ) [iqdb]
15756
At least, the less sense the fight makes, the easier it should be to smooth the matter over for now. You walk over to Suika and ruffle her hair yet again. She lets her hand down from her eyes and blinks repeatedly, her reactions still slow.

“Suika,” you say to her, “There's a time and a place to issue challenges, and in the middle of the night after several battles certainly isn't either.” She looks up at you with wide, curious eyes, staring with a child's intensity. “If you want to challenge her, then with her permission, do so in the morning, when you're at your best form. We both know you're capable of much more than what you were displaying.”

She frowns. “I'm not tired, not at all...”

“Brother's right, we don't need extra trouble tonight. Personal challenges shouldn't follow on the heels of this kind of day's fighting.” Momizi steps forward to add her opinion as you turn to the guard, ignoring Suika's protest.

“Excuse me, miss... um, guard—I apologize terribly for my friend's behaviour. It has been a very tiring day for us, and I believe it might have had an effect on her sense of judgement. I dearly hope you will forgive us for this. Er... by the way, I haven't asked you your name; surely it must be fitting for a fighter of your magnificent skills, if you were able to hold Suika off.”

Her composure recovered, she's standing with crossed arms, watching you, and she responds shortly in a calm, stiff tone. “I am Hong Meiling.” The name is pronounced in an accent you're unused to, her voice applying power to each syllable. “For your apology, at least, I won't hold your companion's actions against you. But... I'm not in a position to forgive an attack on my post so easily.” Some expression must have crossed your face, as she continues less sternly. “However, ultimately, to let you in or not isn't my decision.”

“It isn't?”

“No. I am the head guard here, and my role is to deal with trouble that appears—not to judge whether trouble may appear. I'm not interested in overstepping the job given to me, so the only one who can grant you entrance is the village head.”

“And he—”

“She is on her way.”

A village matriarch? Uncommon, but not unheard of. This is more of a rural hamlet than anything else, far from the cities and strength of the kingdom's influence, after all, so individual traditions will rule.
>> No. 15757
File 123728209735.jpg - (138.80KB , 600x565 , d022148e6a34e212620618a48aa53387.jpg ) [iqdb]
15757
You're not given too long to wonder over this. In a few moments, another woman approaches. At least, you assume it is a woman. Her form is hidden by a blue robe, and her features by the shadow of its hood. Her face you only see when she comes closer and turns directly toward you, the light catching her at this angle. And your first thought is, She's hardly of age to be a six-year-old's mother, let alone an elder matriarch. But the way she carried herself and stands near you now, and the way Hong Meiling subtly acknowledges her presence in her stance, these things give you the feeling that she is at least someone in authority. And when she reaches up to pull down her hood (slender, pale fingers, not rough), the hair beneath is already gray. You try to revise your estimate of her age, but you can't—there's just no way to see her face as old. If she's human, those words echo in your mind.

“I'd like to welcome you to Devern, travelers... but right now, that is difficult. You are the first to come to our gates in some time. Would you tell me who you are, and how you came here?”

Having previously determined how to introduce your party, this isn't difficult. “I am Judas, a priest, and I accompanied these women here—though we didn't intend to become lost in the forest outside.”

“And that man, is he also with you?” You see Meiling nod slightly to her. Looking to where she's pointing, there's Aram against the wall. Still asleep.

“Not exactly. We were attacked by him and several others. We, and the others, escaped.”

“The bandits?” Meiling speaks up suddenly.

“Ah... yes, they were part of some group of bandits.”

Meiling turns to the robed woman, some look of unknown meaning on her face, but betraying an energy that wasn't there a moment ago. The look she's returned, however, is impassive. The brown eyes beneath the hood look again to you, but Meiling speaks first.

“You're handing him over to us?”

You nod. “That was my intention.”

“I will accept responsibility for him.” Saying this in a formal tone, she beckons to the side, and two young men in similar gray-browns appear to do as she directs. Standing here in the gateway prevents you from seeing anyone just around to either side of the gate, so it's impossible to tell how long they'd been there for. Before this thought finishes, they've already gone to pick up Aram. Momizi looks slightly dubious, but otherwise this goes unchallenged. The robed woman speaks again, not looking toward the carriers.

“I am called Keine, and as head I speak for the village. I appreciate you bringing him here. Thank you. Lately, this valley has been dangerous... as you're now partly aware of. I hope you can safely continue your journey. For now, you are welcome, though if you stay too long, it may be difficult for you to escape the area. Meiling?”

“Yes? Ah, yes. I understand.” She turns back toward you. “You're free to enter. I'll just say, you should go there first.” She points back over her shoulder without taking her eyes off you. There's a two-story building of timbers there. “That's the inn and stop-point for traders... (back when traders could get here, anyway...) so you'll find lodging.”

The conversation apparently over, Keine turns to go.

[ ] Ask Keine to wait.
[ ] Speak to Meiling.
[ ] Speak to your companions.
[ ] Finish here and go to the inn.
>> No. 15761
[x] Ask Keine to wait.
[x] "What did you mean by that? Is there something going on that may trap us here?"
[x] Finish here and go to the inn.
>> No. 15769
[x] Ask Keine to wait.
[x] "What did you mean by that? Is there something going on that may trap us here?"
[x] Finish here and go to the inn.
[x] Speak to your companions regarding their impressions on the village now that we've encountered its leader.
>> No. 15804
[x] Ask Keine to wait.
[x] "What did you mean by that? Is there something going on that may trap us here?"
[x] Finish here and go to the inn.
[x] Speak to your companions regarding their impressions on the village and the situation, now that you have all encountered its leader.
>> No. 15818
[X] Ask Keine to wait. "I'm keep you, but may i ask a quick question?"
[X] "What did you mean by that? Is there something going on that may trap us here?"
[X] Finish here and go to the inn.
[X] Speak to your companions regarding their impressions on the village now that we've encountered its leader.

This looks good to me. Also, hooray! this story's moving again.
>> No. 15821
>Also, hooray! this story's moving again.
Will be waiting warmly one month from now for the next update.
>> No. 15825
>>15821
On spring break at the moment.
>> No. 16045
File 123762172825.jpg - (75.05KB , 600x600 , ebe2b1383f351da07749b33328bf54bd.jpg ) [iqdb]
16045
“Please wait a moment—may I ask one thing?”

She turns back, looking over her shoulder to you, a questioning expression.

“What did you mean by that? Is there something going on that may trap us here?”

“Of a sort—but you've already encountered that. The bandits are sealing the only exit from the valley.” she says, matter-of-factly.

“Ah, I see. Thank you.” That seems to be all she wants to say on the subject, though none of the specifics are clear.

A nod, and she leaves. Meiling, still waiting by your side, speaks up.

“As she said, they're ambushing everyone trying to get in or out of the valley. We can't tell much of their movements without putting ourselves in danger, but they're probably based near the entrance.”

“Is this likely to change? Why should it matter if we hurry, if there's no way out?”

Another voice joins in, “Because of the changing of the season, correct?”

Turning, there's Patchouli on your other side, joining the conversation. Meiling nods to her as she continues.

“When it becomes colder, they will spend less time roaming the valley and more time sitting near the valley entrance, if they plan on living off the land here rather than moving on.” Patchouli theorizes, her eyes drifting downward in inward thought.

Another nod from Meiling. “And they don't seem to want to leave. It's odd, honestly. A place this small doesn't have much to offer a band that large, but they've been here most of the year. Ah, but I've kept you, and I must return to my rounds. Have a safe stay, priest.”

With her gone, you all continue on to the inn.
>> No. 16046
File 123762190361.jpg - (64.57KB , 552x700 , 17145364e1d628f4a6754353061684d3.jpg ) [iqdb]
16046
“Hrmm... who—customers?” This follows from a sleepy yawn escaping the young woman sitting before you. Her clothing is ordinary with large white sleeves, her black hair mid-length and straight, with red ribbons tied behind her head being the only truly distinguishing feature, though she might be pretty under different, cleaner, better-dressed and more alertly self-conscious circumstances. You smile patiently, waiting for her to wake enough to ask about a room.

“Yes, we are.”

“Oh!”

She stands up quickly, just as quickly completing the transformation to attentiveness. She takes in the four of you (both Momizi and Suika staring back at her with curiosity), and you do your best to look responsible, unsuspicious, and of humble means. This is not difficult for you, but you companions are another story.

“Welcome to Wisdom's Vision. Of course, rooms, bedding, and accommodation for four. Leave everything to me, and we can discuss the details in the morning.”

“Ah... alright, then.” A little taken aback at her enthusiasm, you look around, but even Suika has nothing to say, and it's not like you have another choice of where to stay, no matter the price... odd name for an inn and tavern, though. That is, if the tables all around you and the bar-like construction to the side of the room do mean that it's also a tavern.

[ ] No, wait, let's take care of the details now.
[ ] Accept and continue to your room, so you'll finally have a chance to talk the situation over with everyone.
[ ] Accept and ask the innkeep for information.
[ ] Perhaps it would be better not to stay here after all, for now.
>> No. 16049
[x] No, wait, let's take care of the details now.

I'm on to your game Hakurei... There'll be no ripping us off
>> No. 16050
>>16049
Poor dear probably needs the money desper҉ Z҉҉̡̢̡̢̛̛̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑ ̒̓̔̕̚ ̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̕̚̕̚ ̡̢̛̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̚ ̡̢̡̢̛̛̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔ ̕̚̕̚ ̔̕̚̕̚҉ A҉̵̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠͇̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̿̿̿̕̚̕̚͡ ͡҉҉l̔̕̚̕̚҉ ҉̵̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠͇̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̿̿̿̕̚̕̚͡ ͡҉҉ ̵̡̢̛̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠͇̊̋̌̍̎̏̿̿̿̚ ҉ ҉҉̡̢̡̢̛̛̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑ ̒̓̔̕̚ ̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̕̚̕̚ ̡̢̛̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̚ ̡̢̡̢̛̛̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔ ̕̚̕̚ ̔̕̚̕̚҉ ҉̵̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠͇̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̿̿̿̕̚̕̚͡ ͡҉҉ ̵̡̢̛̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠͇̊̋̌̍̎̏̿̿̿̒̓̔̚̕̚ ̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̕̚̕̚ G̡̢̛̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̚ ̡̢̡̢̛̛̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔ ̕̚̕̚ ̔̕̚̕̚҉ ҉̵̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠͇̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̿̿̿̕̚̕̚͡ ͡҉҉ Ơ̵̡̢̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠͇̊̋̌̍̎̏̿̿̿̚ ҉ ҉҉̡̢̡̢̛̛̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̖̗̘̙̜̝̞̟̠̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑̒̓̔̊̋̌̍̎̏̐̑ ̒̓
>> No. 16051
oh god i can see forever
>> No. 16052
[x] Accept and continue to your room, so you'll finally have a chance to talk the situation over with everyone.
>> No. 16056
[x] No, wait, let's take care of the details now.
>> No. 16066
File 123767625414.jpg - (38.55KB , 346x505 , e26e41dd0e3e23fc6c129d36496a62b8.jpg ) [iqdb]
16066
This may be premature with only three votes made, but with a choice like this I can see where it would go eventually. How many can refuse the "careful" option? But whatever danger you avoid, bear in mind what other opportunities close off.

And alas, my break ends. So much work to do.

*****************************************

“If it's alright, we can discuss that now.”

“As late as it is, you must be tired--” she starts, but you forestall the objection.

“My friends can rest, but I'm perfectly fine.”

“In that case, I will retire for the night, brother Judas.”

“I may as well sleep so I can beat that guard in the morning.”

“I'll stay with you, brother.”

“Eh, ah, of course that's no problem.” she responds, regaining her smile. “Then you can take the two rooms on the right at the top of the stairs, and I'll be up with fresh bedding in a moment. That's alright, yes?” Agreement. “Great!” Suika and Patchouli go up the stairs, the former jumping five at a time, and the latter proceeding with a more convincing exhaustion. You and Momizi are left with the innkeeper.

“Brother Judas, was it?” You nod. “Pleased to meet you. I'm Reimu. Are you from a priesthood, then?”

“A monastic order, rather.”

“And that's why you're traveling? Oh, sorry, I don't mean to pry. My family line, the Hakurei, used to be the priests of this area, but that was years ago, and I'm just left wondering what happened to the world.”

“That's alright, I don't mind. Yes, our order take it as our duty to protect travelers, so we're also often traveling. I'm not too familiar with this part of the world, unfortunately, so I don't have news from any nearby clergy. But about the rooms...”

You settle the details of your stay for the night. Fortunately, though at first suspicious of the currency you've carried from the last county you passed through, she accepts it at what sounds a fair rate. For room, bedding, and even bath and morning board, the price still seems somewhat steep, but uncertain of how the guards may take to you sleeping in the streets, and unwilling to leave town for the danger of exposing yourself to vengeful bandits, you finally reach an agreement. It's not, at least, as if a traveler such as yourself needs money for things more important than room and board.

When you reach the rooms upstairs, you find them... small. No wonder you needed two. There isn't really room for four people to lay down in one without someone being stepped on. Rather, two beds are placed one raised over another in each room. Interesting and perhaps practical, but you can't help but wonder if this strange arrangement may be fragile. What if someone fell through? But Suika, already laying with her arms spread wide and one dangling half off the bed, seems to have her sleep well supported by the wooden frame. Patchouli sits on the lower bed, staring at the opposite wall, her thoughts a complete mystery.

Reimu comes up behind you, quietly nudging you with arms full of thankfully fresh bedding. Immediately understanding the problem, you reach up and lift Suika in your arms (so very light), taking her off the bed and standing by (still cradling her) as Reimu efficiently changes old blankets for new. Patchouli dutifully stands as her own bed is changed. Suika continues to sleep, unstirring, as you return her.

Though the hour is late... what next?

[ ] Sleep.
[ ] Speak with Momizi in your room.
--[ ] Ask Patchouli to join you.
--[ ] Wake Suika and ask her to join you.
[ ] Speak to the innkeeper.
>> No. 16067
[x] Gently stroke Suika's head a bit as she sleeps before turning to your other companions.
[x] Speak with Momizi in your room.
--[x] Ask Patchouli to join you.

Discussing what to do next is probably a good thing to do at this point
>> No. 16141
[~] Gently stroke Suika's head a bit as she sleeps before turning to your other companions.
[z] Speak with Momizi in your room.
--[e] Ask Patchouli to join you.

d'awwww

>>16050
What the fuck happened there?
>> No. 16145
[x] Speak with Momizi in your room.
[x] Speak to the innkeeper.
[x] Have a group meeting in the morning.
>> No. 16182
[x] Speak with Momizi in your room.

No sense in getting them to join as they just announced they were retiring.
>> No. 16216
[x] Gently stroke Suika's head a bit as she sleeps before turning to your other companions.
[x] Speak with Momizi in your room.
--[x] Ask Patchouli to join you.
>> No. 16236
[x] Gently stroke Suika's head a bit as she sleeps before turning to your other companions.
[x] Speak with Momizi in your room.
--[x] Ask Patchouli to join you.
>> No. 16240
[x] Gently stroke Suika's head a bit as she sleeps before turning to your other companions.
[x] Speak with Momizi in your room.
--[x] Ask Patchouli to join you.
>> No. 16594
File 123811391222.jpg - (118.39KB , 640x800 , 6de04fde0534c08c927afe9019785a8e.jpg ) [iqdb]
16594
Like this, Suika looks more like a young human girl, even with the horns. A precious little girl, unexpectedly vulnerable, giving a feeling at odds with her wakeful self. You gently stroke her head, feeling as you do the roughness of her reddish hair. A chance to clean off would be good for her, and to the rest of you as well, though there's little it seems you can do here before you'll be forced to deal with matters outside the village, and then you'll be forced again into that dirtied state. Not that it's ever been a problem, or that you're unused to it, but on those occasions when you could spend some time within a city, remaining kempt had been a welcome change of pace, as well as helpful in dealing with urban folk. But Suika seemed... dissatisfied with those times. She'd just spend all her time drinking, and some of it breaking people's fingers. Usually, she was justified in the latter activity. But though she didn't complain, it was clear she became less like her enthusiastic self, those times. As if she'd resolved to suppress herself, for the sake of not going against the entire city at once. And seeing her like that—

You stop, realizing that you're still touching Suika's hair. What were you doing just now? Patchouli is looking at you. Momizi isn't there. Now that you think about it, you can remember her saying she'd be inspecting the other room. You walk to the door.

“Patchouli, could we talk over things in the other room, before we sleep?”

“Of course.” Her voice betrays nothing.

*********************************************************

“From circling the area, we found paths going away from the village. They showed significant use, but I can't tell where they go to without walking down one or getting a high vantage point. The village has a good defensive position, given the cleared area, hill, and wall, and there are places to walk and remain protected along the top of the wall as well as in the towers.” Momizi recounts.

“Towers?” You try to remember seeing them.

“Yes, they'd be more clearly visible in daylight. Not counting the gate, there are six towers, each large enough for at least half a dozen archers. Seeing the size of the town, but particularly its remote location, Devern is strangely well-prepared for attack.”

“Could it be because of the bandits?”

“It would take some time to build this kind of fortification... but I'm not sure.”

“It could be that there was some significant threat before the bandits arrived, and that the town is simply old. The forest being sufficient, the walls didn't need to be taken down for their wood, and so they were kept up. Repairing them when a new threat appeared would be relatively simple.” Patchouli adds.

You answer the next question yourself. “And we have no way of knowing that history, nor if it matters now. But about the current situation, otherwise... what did you think of the leader, Keine?”

Patchouli hmms, closing her eyes. Momizi responds first.

“She's probably not human.”

“Just because her hair had lost its color? That could be from an illness, if she's not older than she looked.”

“Not just that. She, um... like a...” Momizi looks away, obviously embarrassed. You can't help but gape at this inexplicable event. What part of a modestly dressed (sick/old?) woman's appearance could be embarrassing? Momizi drops down from the upper bed, landing next to Patchouli and stepping over to where you sit on the room's one stool. She leans down so that her face passes by yours, and whispers to your ear.

“She smells—like a monstrous beast.”

And then she returns, leaving your side, and leaving you in no small amount of confusion. You smelled nothing but the normal smells of forest, earth, and human living. Fairly clean, if anything. At Patchouli's calm but curious look, you can only nod and accept Momizi's observation. “Probably not human.”

“If it's a question of what we should do from here, my suggestion is to find as much information as easily possible while here, but leave soon. There may be no answers forthcoming but from seeing to the bandits and whatever we fled from. There also may be something else to find in the valley, apart from how the peasants and bandits are supporting themselves, if not by meager hunting. Though it would be... dangerous... the answers are closest to the danger.” Patchouli slowly gets up as she finishes speaking.

**********************************************************

You open the door to find...

[ ] ...a pile of little disks. You receive a calculating look from their owner.
[ ] ...a crumpled towel. You receive a measuring look from its owner.
[ ] ...a stack of pancakes. You receive a suspicious look from its owner.

[ ] Red.
[ ] Blue.
[ ] Green.
>> No. 16596
[x] ...a stack of pancakes. You receive a suspicious look from its owner.

[x] Red.
>> No. 16597
[x] ...a pile of little disks. You receive a calculating look from their owner.
[x] Blue.

I'm guessing if Reimu is doing room-service, then suspicion is a bad thing. Even though I want those pancakes so bad....
>> No. 16702
[x] ...a pile of little disks. You receive a calculating look from their owner.
[x] Blue.

Poor Suika... We should let her cut loose tomorrow with Meiling so she can enjoy a good fight and cheer up a bit. As for the two choices themselves... Hmm. The discs seem to be a source of information in my mind, the towel could lead to several things, and the food is well... food. Not too sure about the colors, just went for my prefered one of the three.
>> No. 16706
I have no idea what's going on here, but I like it.

[X] ...a pile of little disks. You receive a calculating look from their owner.
[X] Red~
>> No. 16709
[x] ...a stack of pancakes. You receive a suspicious look from its owner.

[x] Red.
>> No. 16711
[x] ...a pile of little disks. You receive a calculating look from their owner.
Coins?

[x] Blue
Ponderous.
>> No. 16721
[z] ...a crumpled towel. You receive a measuring look from its owner.

[e] Green.
>> No. 16744
[x] ...a pile of little disks. You receive a calculating look from their owner.
[x] Blue.

Damn cryptic choices
>> No. 16824
File 123822763872.jpg - (150.98KB , 673x800 , 2deab45e647303233f8e0aa598bc6f0b.jpg ) [iqdb]
16824
First, no one saw that. Ok? Good.

I am unbelievably tired and I can't see how much time I'll have to write this weekend. Thus, this update is provided as-is, rather than continuing to a more comprehensible choice-point.

Ok? Good.

***********************************

You open the door and are met with smoke, darkness, noise, and the gaze of those sitting around the table. Your eyes adjust quickly, and you take the seat offered you.

“Ten thousand buy-in, kid. Two hundred ante. No limit.” an older woman in the red dress next to you says, while a sharp-looking, silver-haired woman across the table efficiently shuffles in a display of highly competent dexterity.

You nod, placing the paper notes from your hand on the table. Another, smaller hand removes them, replacing them a moment later with stacks of blue and red chips of some cheap material. Glancing back, you can just see her long red hair, over something like a business uniform, before the woman ducks through a doorway into another darkened room.

Turning again to the table, you can make out five faces below the wan lamplight. You are unsurprised to see that, apart from the dealer across from you and the older woman to your left, the other three are all children. Further to your left, by the dealer, is a blonde girl wearing a straw hat (bad manners to wear a hat indoors, you remember your grandmother telling you that), dressed in blue and white. The two to the right wear similar white-cloth caps and frilled dresses stolen and enlarged from antique porcelain dolls. By your side, another blonde (though shorter-haired), red-and-white-dressed. Toward the dealer, one with hair blending into something like a darker silver, and dressed in white-and-red, red ribbons over rounding white cloth.

The one in white makes some expression you still can't see well through the dark, as your eyes continue to adjust. “You're just inviting people in off the street, now?”

Across from her, the woman in red shrugs. “It's not like we're using your mansion. What's the problem?”

To your other side, little blonde-in-red says, “It's more fun with more people, isn't it, sister?” They do look like sisters, this one the younger. Maybe a couple years difference. There's a taste in the air, sharp and electric.

Big sister turns to the dealer, who just closes her eyes and places down the deck, murmuring something you don't catch. Looking from the dealer around the table, her eyes settle on you. “Fine, then.”

“Oh, good.” Little sister giggles and turns to you. “Here, you can have this.” A large rock candy is pressed into your palm, shaped like a single long, red crystal. You politely accept it, tasting one end while the girl in the straw hat—the only one you've yet to hear speak—cuts the deck, and the cards and chips begin to move. It tastes like cherries. Chips forward, cards thrown from the dealer down to lay in front of you. One, two, three, four... five.

Ace of spades, a good sign. You carefully fan the cards. Ten of hearts, three of spades, and a pair of red deuces. You could do worse.

When you look around the table, you see the big sister tapping the table, announcing, “Pass.”

The dealer (who, you notice, did not deal herself a hand) speaks gently, “I believe that's 'check,' milady.” Her response is a shrug.

Little sister bounces in her seat, chanting, “Check, check, check!”

You push forward one of the smaller chips. “Raise.”

“Someone's gotta bring things up, it's just boring otherwise, right? Call.” To your left, the woman in red sees your bet, and it passes around the table.

Draw phase. (Were you playing five card draw? Of course you were playing five card draw.) Three cards to big sister, one to little sister (still looking excited in her seat—does she know you're not supposed to give away your hand?), three for you. Keeping the pair, you conceal your elation at the additions. Then, three new cards to each of the two to your left. The one beneath the straw hat still hasn't said anything. Second round of bets. Check, check, raise, re-raise, fold. Despite revealing two pair, straw hat leaves the round early. Whether she's crazy or she knew she'd lose, there's no way to tell. Another round of raises, starting with big sister—was her last check a lure? Finally comes the showdown, and little sister throws down her cards before anyone can say anything.

“Aha!” That's the king, ten, nine, and eight of diamonds... and the nine of hearts. So close. “What do I win?”

A crooked smile from big sister. The dealer spreads out the cards and carefully explains, using that same gentle voice. It takes a few moments for little sister to understand she had a pair, not a flush. Her response is dangerously close to a pout.

“Very well.” Big sister's hand—a pair of queens.

“Heh.” The woman in red puts down a pair of kings. The response is... skepticism. There is a moment of confusion, and she explains, “Kings are over queens.”

“What? That's stupid.”

“Don't complain to me about it.”

“Sakuya, is this true?”

“Ah... yes, milady. That is the rule of the game, at least for the version that we agreed to play.” Big sister hmphs.

They turn as one to look at you. You reluctantly reveal your hand. A pair of deuces, followed by your draw... a third deuce and a pair of jacks. Full house. There's a groan from your left, and you smile, a little sheepishly. But that's just the way the game went, right? It's not as if you're crashing their party. You recover as the dealer—Sakuya, it seems—pushes your winnings to you.

Second hand. King-high straight to big sister. You break off another piece of crystallized candy to suck as little sister regains her enthusiasm for no apparent reason. Third hand. Two pair, same winner, and she almost glows with triumph. Fourth hand. Two pair, to little sister. Fifth hand...

“Hey, are you sure your maid is dealing right?” The woman puts away a small mirror as she glances from big sister to dealer.

From the former, “What are you trying to say? Sakuya is performing perfectly.” Annoyance, a ticking of a clock above your head.

“Oho, but just what kind of play is she performing?” A tug at your right hand. You look down and to the side, into little sister's smiling face. Another tug.

Aghast, from the silver-haired (maid?) dealer, “You can't seriously be suggesting that—”

You let yourself be removed from your chair, following little sister as she goes toward the door. “Want some more?”

Some more what? Oh, the candy is gone.

From behind you, “Or maybe it was just our fate to—”

There's an explosion, a rushing of air, and your back chars and disintegrates, disappearing in an instant. There's no pain. Just a feeling of emptiness—of not-being. Your self returns to you, or you return to yourself, to find yourself standing in front of a bathroom. You know it's a bathroom because there's a sign showing little male and female figures, a slash between them, and a third below. A red man, and a blue woman, and a blue figure with no legs. Shouldn't that be a wheelchair?

The little sister appears by your side again, and returns your look sadly, looking between you and the door. “Oh,” she says, holding her cap in her hand. “This is the wrong story. But maybe we can play again, some other time?” You smile and ruffle her hair. She giggles and skips away.

You push open the door.
>> No. 16825
File 123822768298.jpg - (37.38KB , 504x678 , ca78749727eab85380c00ce6837ed346.jpg ) [iqdb]
16825
You are disappointed to find that there is no toilet here. It has been replaced with a large wooden post, reaching from floor to ceiling, and a foot thick. At each point it breaks through the floor and ceiling as if driven from above by a monstrous hammer. If there is no toilet, then this must not be a bathroom, but there is a sink, and paper towels. The surrounding walls are decaying, paper peeling off, and you see the scurrying of vermin in the cracks. The woman tied to the post moves slightly as you enter. Perturbed, you move to the wash basin, applying the hand soap. You probably shouldn't have been playing cards with such dirty hands, but hopefully they didn't mind.

“He... heh... hellll...” she says. As you move to get a paper towel, you hear her speak. Drying your hands, you turn back to face her. She was once wearing, very probably, a luxuriously gorgeous dress of foreign style. A fanciful young woman's robe, dyed and embroidered with designs of people and trees and rivers. Now it's filthy, and ends along the lower leg. There's only a jagged rip in the cloth, there, and the ends of her legs are behind the cloth, but... Stains of red trace down the post into the floor, and your eyes follow them to cracks in the aging tiles.

And then, your eyes move up again, to that face, framed with long, deep black hair that stretches down from head to foot—or where her feet should be. She doesn't have any. Your eyes return once more to that face, and that tortured expression, which twists further as she haltingly says, “Help... me...”

You wake up.

The dream fades. Only those last two words remain clear.

[ ] ____________________
>> No. 16826
File 12382284656.jpg - (384.24KB , 1000x1000 , de0c9d29f31d08d2e764b6abeb672f85.jpg ) [iqdb]
16826
>Further to your left, by the dealer, is a blonde girl wearing a straw hat (bad manners to wear a hat indoors, you remember your grandmother telling you that), dressed in blue and white.

......

Kana Anaberal is the only one I can think of. Am I doing it completely wrong?

Sage for useless idiot post.
>> No. 16827
[x] FInd and check every single nook and cranny that could be remotely considered a bathroom in the village.
>> No. 16829
[x] Call together your companions to discuss what to spend today doing.
[x] Bring up your dream.
[x] Suggest that while Suika has her fight with Meiling, Momizi uses it as a distraction to check around the town for anything that might fit the description of what you saw while Patchy and you go talk to Keine in regards to any extra information regarding the decision you came to earlier in an effort to make it easier to accomplish.
[x] Watch as much of what remains in the match between Suika and Meiling before returning to the inn to compile everything gathered during the day.
>> No. 16831
[x] Freak out
>> No. 16835
[ze] What the fuck.

Even monks swear sometimes.
>> No. 16852
[X] Call together your companions to discuss what to spend today doing.
[X] Bring up your dream.
[X] Ask Suika (and everyone else) if staging a fight would serve as an acceptable distraction.
[X] Suggest that if/while Suika has her fight with Meiling, Momizi uses it as a distraction to check around the town for anything that might fit the description of what you saw while Patchy and you go talk to Keine in regards to any extra information regarding the decision you came to earlier in an effort to make it easier to accomplish.
[X] Watch as much of what remains in the match between Suika and Meiling before returning to the inn to compile everything gathered during the day, but try to keep out of plain sight yourself.

This sounds like a solidly good course of action to me, although we should perhaps show some restraint in loosing Suika to have some fun. We wouldn't want to get kicked out when there are still mysteries about to explore, no? It also might be beneficial if we are seen nowhere near the fight since if we are there and do nothing that basically implicates us as culprits.
>> No. 16967
File 123835012377.jpg - (801.06KB , 1000x950 , aa6fd5e291c28c85f5d3567238f3fc4c.jpg ) [iqdb]
16967
Your mind reels, flipping, twisting, your stomach rising. You clutch at the fragmented memories flying from your head out the window, to the west, to the waning, gibbous moon, still visible in the shadow of dawn's light. But by then the meaning is gone, never to return. Signs? Cards? Disconnected nonsense.

The taste of cherries turns to blood turns to nothing. The sense of panic dulls, rather than fades. Curses rise in your mind. Then, an echo.

Help me.

You call your companions together.

*******************************************************

You feel wiser. You feel more diplomatic.

*******************************************************

“So, while Suika challenges the guard, Meiling, Momizi will look through the town. Meanwhile, you and I will occupy and question the elder, Keine. That is correct?” Patchouli asks.

“Yes, that's basically it. We'll meet back here afterward.”

“This seems suitable.”

“But brother, what am I looking for? You said you had an important dream, but not what you saw.”

You hesitate, then shake your head. “Someone trapped, hurt, and in need of help. An old place.”

She nods. “I'll look for any place that may be hidden inside the town, and get the view from the towers, if I can.”

“Thank you, Momizi.”

Suika hits a fist into her palm, grinning. “I've got no problems with this.”

Reimu supplied breakfast, so each of you leave to your appointed task once you've finished eating. Suika is the first out the door, and you last, as you wait for Patchouli.

It turns out that Keine is not difficult to find. The first person you ask as to her whereabouts points you immediately toward the center of the village, and from there to the north, coming in short order to a dwelling like all the rest. A house, at least, more than a hut, but single-floored.

“Thank you for being so prompt. Please, sit.”

Keine sits at one of four chairs by a small, round table. Her dress is similar to before, sans hood, revealing her hair to be nearly as long as Patchouli's. Gray, all the way down, and with an almost metallic sheen as the flickers in the fireplace behind her send light through it. You sit.

“I'll come straight to the point, then.” she continues. You glance at Patchouli, but she only returns a look as quizzical as you feel.

“Please help us. Please help the bandits move on.”

[ ] ____________________
>> No. 16969
[x] "wat"
>> No. 16976
[x] Tell her you'll listen to what she has to say, but she'll have to wait for you to talk with all of your companions before coming to a proper conclusion of what to do.
[x] Discuss with her the potential reward for helping the village out in order to provide a more complete report of the situation while you discuss what to do with your allies, as well as anything that might have happened with the captured bandit that was turned over.

Not too fond of blindly jumping into an agreement with them when there are still some unknown factors in this. If the person who called out for help is located in the village, and we've already given them our trust to solve the matter, we might return to find ourselves in a bad situation.
>> No. 17016
[x] Tell her you'll listen to what she has to say, but she'll have to wait for you to talk with all of your companions before coming to a proper conclusion of what to do.
[x] Discuss with her the potential reward for helping the village out in order to provide a more complete report of the situation while you discuss what to do with your allies, as well as anything that might have happened with the captured bandit that was turned over.
>> No. 17018
[x] Tell her you'll listen to what she has to say, but she'll have to wait for you to talk with all of your companions before coming to a proper conclusion of what to do.
[x] Discuss with her the potential reward for helping the village out in order to provide a more complete report of the situation while you discuss what to do with your allies, as well as anything that might have happened with the captured bandit that was turned over.
>> No. 17045
[x] Tell her you'll listen to what she has to say, but she'll have to wait for you to talk with all of your companions before coming to a proper conclusion of what to do.
[x] Discuss with her the potential reward for helping the village out in order to provide a more complete report of the situation while you discuss what to do with your allies, as well as anything that might have happened with the captured bandit that was turned over.
>> No. 17046
[x] Tell her you'll listen to what she has to say, but she'll have to wait for you to talk with all of your companions before coming to a proper conclusion of what to do.
[x] Discuss with her the potential reward for helping the village out in order to provide a more complete report of the situation while you discuss what to do with your allies, as well as anything that might have happened with the captured bandit that was turned over.
>> No. 17061
[x] Tell her you'll listen to what she has to say, but she'll have to wait for you to talk with all of your companions before coming to a proper conclusion of what to do.
[x] Discuss with her the potential reward for helping the village out in order to provide a more complete report of the situation while you discuss what to do with your allies, as well as anything that might have happened with the captured bandit that was turned over.
>> No. 17065
[x] Tell her you'll listen to what she has to say, but she'll have to wait for you to talk with all of your companions before coming to a proper conclusion of what to do.
[x] Discuss with her the potential reward for helping the village out in order to provide a more complete report of the situation while you discuss what to do with your allies, as well as anything that might have happened with the captured bandit that was turned over.
>> No. 17093
[x] Tell her you'll listen to what she has to say, but she'll have to wait for you to talk with all of your companions before coming to a proper conclusion of what to do.
[x] Discuss with her the potential reward for helping the village out in order to provide a more complete report of the situation while you discuss what to do with your allies, as well as anything that might have happened with the captured bandit that was turned over.
>> No. 17210
File 123848108144.png - (493.19KB , 600x800 , e6f63ba6744b1949cf24ae078faa72d2.png ) [iqdb]
17210
“I'll listen, but please understand, without speaking to all of my companions, we can't reach a proper conclusion of what to do.”

At your side, Patchouli nods.

“I see. Of course, I should explain everything. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can explain, as no one here really understands the bandits. I can tell you that the only person to reach here in the past year and a half is been our present head guard. The only person. Without access to the merchants in the towns outside the valley, there's only so long this town can support itself. I... We can't... There just seems to be no way we can satisfy them.”

“If you have been unable to deal with this problem, why do you consider four travelers to be more likely to succeed?” Patchouli voices the suddenly obvious uncertainty.

“Meiling told me about how strong your friend was last night. There's no one else in this town who could fight like that with her, and it's thanks to her that we can sleep peacefully here.”

“That's... a high commendation.” you note, in regards to attributing the safety of hundreds to the one.

“Merely the truth of our situation.”

“But that does not explain your trust in us, if you already have her.” Patchouli continues.

“Would I be wrong in thinking that you have your own talents?”

There is the barest of pauses, accompanied by a vivid memory from the previous evening.

“Let's assume for a moment,” you start, “that we can deal with the bandits. Would there be a potential for us to be rewarded?”

“Ah, as a mercenary? Please pardon me, I thought you were a monk.”

You blink. She took that in the worst way possible very quickly.

“From an order of protectors.” she adds.

She has to be doing that on purpose, but her face doesn't show it. In the moment you open your mouth, the voice to your side takes over, in tones of gentle admonishment and praise.

“Brother Judas has been an excellent protector of we travelers in our time together, and of all in the time I've known him. Surely you understand a man's obligations to his prior commitments? In this case, his commitment as our escort, to a destination other than this town, and he would be remiss if he were to leave us even for your cause. He is asking not for his own sake, then, but for the sake of convincing us to allow him the detour in our travel. As worthy as your cause is, and as grateful as we are for this moment of asylum, the rest of us have no further obligation than to see to our own safe exit.”

“That's... true.” She deflates.

“Another question, if I may. What of the man we brought in last night?”

“Of him?” She perks up for a moment, “He... woke up, and he was asked some questions, but he's not chosen to answer anything important. We at least know who he is, but that's all. He's being kept by the guards.”

That was everything you had to say. “Please return when you've an answer.” is all she calls as you leave.

It's time to find Suika. This is even easier than finding Keine. You don't have to ask anyone—you just go in the direction of the largest disturbance. And if the disturbance is still going on, then she probably hasn't been arrested yet.

You come to a large circle of men, women, and children, ringing what has been apparently declared an impromptu arena, near the gatehouse. The ring extends around to the other side, so nothing remains on the inside but dirt and the two fighters. Something's wrong, though. Suika shouldn't look that. It should be impossible for her to look like that. Suika's constitution is an indomitable force, yet there she is, standing in the center, hardly moving, only raising her arms and being pushed back. It doesn't matter where she's pushed to, though. The ring of people follow, never approaching, but never opening. From where you've pushed to the front, you can watch as outside-foot follows palm follows knuckles follows heel, a veritable gale of strikes landing with resounding force, from the green-clad guard to the shaken, horned warrior.

The roar of the crowd ebbs higher than that of the battle. You might be seen, but your voice won't reach anyone.

[ ] Do something right now.
[ ] Don't.
>> No. 17211
[x] Don't interrupt the match unless things look really bad. Even if she loses, you know Suika would much rather lose with honor than have the match stopped, yet again, for whatever reason we might have.
[x] Keep a healing spell at the ready though, just in case.

I doubt Meiling would really do anything to completely hurt her, especially after Keine had made that offer to us. Just let her try her best in order to let her relieve some stress. Interrupting the fight, yet again, would do more harm than good for Suika.
>> No. 17213
[x] Do something right now.
[x] Electrocute everybody within the general vicinity if you have to.
>> No. 17219
[x] Don't interrupt the match unless things look really bad. Even if she loses, you know Suika would much rather lose with honor than have the match stopped, yet again, for whatever reason we might have.
[x] Keep a healing spell at the ready though, just in case.

o/
>> No. 17279
>>17210
[X] Don't interrupt the match unless things look really bad. Even if she loses, you know Suika would much rather lose with honor than have the match stopped, yet again, for whatever reason we might have.
[X] Keep a healing spell at the ready though, just in case.

>You feel wiser. You feel more diplomatic.
Was this a stat up or just something?
>> No. 17320
who said this fight was honorable?
>> No. 17325
>>17320

Based on the assumption that China didn't initially seem the type to pull a dishonest fight, as well as Keine asking us for our help. Would the person who is solely responsbile for protecting the town go and try to drive away the only people who stand a chance at dealing with the bandits by going so low as to use underhanded methods, especially after probably being the person who brought up the idea of seeking our help after fighting with Suika? The chances are extremely low they'll occur sadly, instead of being non-existant, which is why I still left things to allow interruption if we see anything bad happen, but I doubt things will go down like that.
>> No. 17495
File 123870393051.jpg - (154.52KB , 450x350 , c85b2ab4a8ef06df8438497a3ca79213.jpg ) [iqdb]
17495
You can't. Until you can be sure that Suika is absolutely unable to fight, you can't stop her. She might not forgive you. But even so...

Even so, it doesn't matter. You chose to hesitate, and not to act. This battle is much too fast for such slow activities as thinking things through to matter. Move or don't, and you didn't. So you can only watch as a series of spinning kicks are launched, Meiling's body spinning around and around, legs alternately planting firmly in the dirt and flying up to strike at Suika's slowly retreating form, both arms raised to shield her left side. Every blow that misses keeps its momentum, and every blow that hits does so solidly.

Finally, Meiling reverses, striking from Suika's right with enough force to send her to the ground. She rushes forward with a shout quickly echoed by her cheering audience, and as Suika stands, takes her in a two-handed grab, throwing her over her shoulder against the ground. As she turns, and Suika flies through the air, though her path was to strike the ground with her back, Suika flips completely, landing on her feet. Meiling follows a similar path overhead, striking her back, but is quickly up—but now Suika's holding onto her arm.

Meiling twists, her other hand going against the ground as she strikes with both feet at the shorter girl's head. Suika ducks and pulls her arm around, arresting the motion of the kick and throwing Meiling in a circle around her, hitting against the ground twice (though not heavily) before releasing her to fly at the wall. The crowd quickly ducks away. As you saw her do before, she lands with her feet to the wall and ready to kick off, but Suika had launched headfirst after her before she'd even hit. Like grabbing onto a charging bull, Meiling holds back her horns, but this does not nearly enough for such momentum, and her elbows crack back against the wall, arms held by Suika's hands.

Suika blocks a knee to the face and strikes a one-two with her fists into Meiling's stomach. She backs up to avoid a two-fingered stab to her eye, bouncing back immediately to strike with a thrust elbow. Meiling vaults over her head, tumbling, rolling, and coming up on one knee, breathing heavily half a dozen paces away. What's more surprising is that she can move at all.

There's a pause, and Meiling is the first to speak. “You faked all that?”

“Didn't fake getting hit. Faked caring I got hit.”

“Waiting for me to grab you, to grab me?”

“Can't dodge when I hold on, like I figured.”

“Congratulations on that.”

“Giving up?”

“No.”

“Haha! Good.”

Their distance closes. Kick-punch-knee-spinning-back-elbow, thrust palm, fingers, heel. Strikes come from fists, knuckles, arms, feet and head. Though they both rushed together, and Meiling remains more on the offensive, you can tell she's lost most of her advantage in speed. Suika brushes casually past each blow, striking suddenly with whatever part of her body is closest. Then comes an “Ei!” and a pained grunt, and Meiling is struck from below, doubling over on top of Suika's fist and falling to the side. She rolls a half-moment later (slowed, you see again), as a fist craters the ground by her, then jumps up as Suika reaches for her, dancing back one step and then forward, retaliating with a high spinning right kick that drops low at the last fractional moment.

Suika strikes her shin before the foot's edge reaches her, with a sound loud enough to be snapping bones. Whether she did or not, Meiling hops back on her left leg, but too slow to avoid Suika's tackle. They both go down, and roll twice over. As they come up, Suika sits on Meiling's chest, pinning down her arms.

“Give up!”

“Not y--”

Suika smashes her forehead down, cutting off the objection.

“Give up!”

“. . .”

There is no response. Suika lets one of her arms up. Still no response. She slaps Meiling's face. Then she slaps it again.

“...ugh. Ow.”

And it seems to be over.

After the two get up, and the crowd slowly disperses, some of them stopping to argue loudly for a few moments or reluctantly/exuberantly exchange money (more of the former than the latter). Meiling looks sullen, then resigned. Suika looks happy. They both look incredibly dirty, and their clothing is torn.

As Suika turns to wave toward you, Meiling asks, “Why didn't you use your chains?”

“Handicap.”

Meiling suggests something unladylike in a very annoyed tone. Suika laughs.

[ ] ______________
>> No. 17496
[x] "That was a great battle, you two. Now how about you both get cleaned up. I'm sure the tavern can prepare quite a hearty breakfast for two hungry fighters. Miss Meiling, I would like to have a word with you afterwards, if that is alright"
>> No. 17538
>>17495
[X] Address Suika and Meiling: "Bravo, that was quite the ferocious match. Ms. Meiling, that style of grappling was quite impressive indeed. I'd be remiss if I did not request that you regall me with the origin of that style. Irregardless, please grant me the honor of administering some aid for the worthy combatants."
[X] Divine Healing anyway, even if they decline
[X] "Suika, I'm afraid there's some urgent business that we must attend to. If you will grant us leave Ms. Meiling."
[X] Collect Suika; regroup with Momizi and Pathouli to discuss Keines offer.

Start with the compliments to lubricate the process, make sure the town guardian (and your best brawler) is in tip-top shape, extract, and regroup.
>> No. 17541
[d] Use that healing spell you were saving on Meiling.
[a] Give Suika a celebratory hug.
[z] "Nicely done Suika. Probably fooled everyone here who hasn't seen you fight before with the first half of the fight."
[e] "Now then Suika, let's get back to the inn so you can get cleaned up. Patchy and I need to fill you and Momiji in on the situation."

Slight rewording to sound less patronizing/creepy.

Also, Suika is awesome.
>> No. 17553
These votes are similar but they are not the same. I cannot write if they purposefully contradict.

>>17279
>Was this a stat up...?
Yes.
>> No. 17554
And here I was hoping to see Meiling and Suika go at it in a food-eating contest.
>> No. 17560
[x] Use that healing spell you were saving on Meiling.
[x] Give Suika a celebratory hug.
[x] "Nicely done Suika. Probably fooled everyone here who hasn't seen you fight before with the first half of the fight."
[x] "Now then Suika, let's get back to the inn so you can get cleaned up. Patchy and I need to fill you and Momiji in on the situation."
>> No. 17581
[X] Use that healing spell you were saving on Meiling.
[X] Give Suika a celebratory hug.
[X] "Nicely done Suika. Probably fooled everyone here who hasn't seen you fight before with the first half of the fight."
[X] "Now then Suika, let's get back to the inn so you can get cleaned up. Patchy and I need to fill you and Momiji in on the situation."
>> No. 17585
[x] Use that healing spell you were saving on Meiling.
[x] Give Suika a celebratory hug.
[x] "Nicely done Suika. Probably fooled everyone here who hasn't seen you fight before with the first half of the fight."
[x] "Now then Suika, let's get back to the inn so you can get cleaned up. Patchy and I need to fill you and Momiji in on the situation."
>> No. 17586
[x] Use that healing spell you were saving on Meiling.
[x] Give Suika a celebratory hug.
[x] "Nicely done Suika. Probably fooled everyone here who hasn't seen you fight before with the first half of the fight."
[x] "Now then Suika, let's get back to the inn so you can get cleaned up. Patchy and I need to fill you and Momiji in on the situation."

Meiling didn't stand a chance in hell.
>> No. 17663
File 123891513114.jpg - (31.45KB , 335x460 , 1190166484225.jpg ) [iqdb]
17663
You perform the familiar movements, activating your prepared spell with Meiling as your target. She bristles, but Patchouli states “It's just a healing spell,” for you, and it had already touched her by the time she was aware of it. She relaxes, and you feel the power flow over, triggering the speedy mending of flesh and bone.

Suika grins at you. “I'm awesome, aren't I? Tell me I'm awesome.”

“You're awesome, Suika.” you're forced to agree. “Nicely done. Probably fooled everyone here who hasn't seen you fight before, with the first half of that fight.” You have the sudden urge to give her a celebratory hug, but at nearly twice her height, it would be awkward. And people are looking.

“You aren't bad, either.” Suika turns to Meiling as she quietly flexes her leg. “It's just that I'm better.”

Regretfully, “I don't seem to be able to argue with that. Thanks for the assistance, priest.” She makes a fist-clasped salute to you—or something that seems like it should be a salute, more than a bow.

“Ah, it was nothing. I couldn't be irresponsible, seeing this. Now then Suika, let's get back to the inn so you can get cleaned up. Patchy and I need to fill you and Momizi in on the situation.”

*******************************************************

Reimu seems to be in a good mood as you wait in the front room of the inn. It doesn't take long for Momizi to arrive and all of you to head upstairs, the better to talk securely. You relate as much of your conversation with Keine as you can remember, with Patchouli's memory filling any gap.

“This isn't a lot to go on. I'm afraid I found little, myself.” Momizi says. “I now have a good understanding of the town's layout, but I found no hidden places, and no people in trouble. Nothing useful to us. And no part of the town seems exceedingly old. Some wood shows signs of age, but all the buildings standing are kept in good condition.”

“And so, what about Keine's request?” you ask.

Patchouli, “I am not especially interested in making such a promise.”

Suika, “I want to fight their boss anyway.”

Momizi, “I'll trust your decision, brother.”

You decide...

[ ] ...to refuse.
[ ] ...to accept.
[ ] ...to refuse, but do it if you can.
[ ] ...to accept, but don't do it if you can't.
>> No. 17664
[x] ...to accept, but don't do it if you can't.
>> No. 17665
[x] ...to accept, but don't do it if you can't.
[x] Give Suika that hug later when you're alone with her.
>> No. 17666
[x] ...to refuse, but do it if you can.
>> No. 17800
[x] ...to accept, but don't do it if you can't.
[x] Give Suika that hug later when you're alone with her.
[x] Make sure Keine knows of that conditional.
[x] Thank Momizi for her hard work in exploring the town. It might not have turned anything up, but it helped set your mind at ease for the time being.
>> No. 17804
[x] ...to accept, but don't do it if you can't.
[x] Give Suika that hug later when you're alone with her.
[x] Make sure Keine knows of that conditional.
[x] Thank Momizi for her hard work in exploring the town. It might not have turned anything up, but it helped set your mind at ease for the time being.
>> No. 17874
[d] ...to accept, but don't do it if you can't.
[a] Give Suika that hug later when you're alone with her.
[z] Make sure Keine knows of that conditional.
[e] Thank Momizi for her hard work in exploring the town. It might not have turned anything up, but it helped set your mind at ease for the time being.

Gattai da~