[Return]
Archived thread

File 12395194858.jpg - (128.77KB , 900x675 , 5190bd16abfa0b26976667b38dda709d.jpg ) [iqdb]
18234 No. 18234
“We'll attempt it. But we can't promise success—that would simply be irresponsible. If she knows this, she'll have to be satisfied.”

Patchouli nods approvingly. “This is the most reasonable course.”

“I hope we can help them after all. It would be shameful if we fail...” Momizi says seriously, trailing off with a look of concern.

Suika swings her legs as she sits. “Let's pack up and move, already. I've only gotten warmed up for today.”

“Could I deliver the message to Keine? I haven't had any chance to speak to her yet.” Momizi continues.

“That would be fine. Just make sure she understands that our help is conditional, But first, let me thank you for your hard work exploring the town. Just turning up no secrets helps set my mind at ease.”

She smiles. “Of course, brother.”

Patchouli gets up. “It would be preferable if at least one of those who talked with her earlier were there to deliver the message. I may as well accompany you.”

Thinking of her predisposition against unnecessary trips, you curiously ask, “Are you sure? I could do that as easily.”

“Yes. You did speak to the innkeeper over our lodging, didn't you? Therefore, I leave that to you. I'm not sure why, but I don't wish to make her acquaintance.”

“'At's a bit harsh, Patchouli.” Suika also stands as Momizi and Patchouli step through the doorway.

“I'm aware. It's likely nothing, regardless.” Patchouli says, body half-turned to let her speak back. “We'll meet in front of the gate, if that's acceptable.”

“Sure, sure. Front of the gate.”

Suika waves them off as they go, and you're left alone—wait, isn't this a chance? Suika's standing right there, and that feeling from before is still with you, now with no real hindrance. With a single word of warning—her name—you kneel and embrace her, letting yourself wash in that victorious feeling of earlier. She seems surprised, though she doesn't respond by throwing you off.

“H—hey, what're you doing?”

“A hug of celebration. You were great back there, after all.”

“Oh—oh, well of course I was. You didn't worry about me, did you? I'm too tough for being worried over, but I'll accept your feelings happily.” She grins, taking the opportunity presented by your reduced height to pat your head.

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

It isn't much later that you're leaving through the gate, having finished your business with Reimu uneventfully, and your friends returning from speaking to Keine. Meiling waves at you from inside as you walk down the slope, all the way until the doors are closed behind you. Up in the tower over the gate, others continue to watch you go, but you turn your attention away and toward the fore. Forward lies the future.

As to the specific direction, it's still a matter of choice. The future also works that way. You can go straight to where Keine believes the center of the bandit activity is to the northwest, circle around west-northwest to reach the valley's entrance, or take a fully circuitous north or west, turning only when you feel like it or when you reach the rougher foothills. The way you came from, you now realize, was probably farther to the south-southeast, taking everything that happened into account.

[ ] North
[ ] East
[ ] South-Southeast
[ ] South
[ ] West
[ ] West-Northwest
[ ] Northwest

>> No. 18237
[x] West-Northwest, with a heavy preference to the Northwest.

We said we'd try so maintaining a route that would optimally lead us to run into them would be for the best, while still maintaining our way out of here
>> No. 18241
[x] North

I'd rather not go straight to where miss Keine pointed us. Just a precaution.
>> No. 18250
Well, if leaving the valley is our end goal, and we stated that we would try to help them if a situation where we could help them arose, then moving along a route with the highest chance of encountering them while still not just heading directly for them makes the most sense. Overall, leaving the village as it is would leave them in quite the predicament regardless so helping them would certainly be the right thing to do.
>> No. 18297
>She grins, taking the opportunity presented by your reduced height to pat your head.
Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggh
>> No. 18302
[x] West-Northwest, with a heavy preference to the Northwest.
>> No. 18484
>>18234
[X] West-Northwest, with a heavy preference to the Northwest.
>> No. 18514
[x] West-Northwest, with a heavy preference to the Northwest.
>> No. 18516
[ze] West-Northwest, with a heavy preference to the Northwest.

Sure, why not?
>> No. 20120
File 124348877963.jpg - (60.51KB , 478x723 , cave_exit_forest.jpg ) [iqdb]
20120
The plot will be returning shortly. In the meantime, an opportunity. Multi-voting is possible (except for the last option) but may not increase scene length.

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

[ ] Speak with Momizi.
[ ] Speak with Patchouli.
[ ] Speak with Suika.
[ ] Remain alertly quiet.
>> No. 20122
[x] Speak with Momizi.
>> No. 20123
[ ] Speak with Momizi.
>> No. 20126
[x] Speak with Suika.
>> No. 20130
[O] Speak with Momizi.
>> No. 20143
[ze] Speak with Mo' Miji.
>> No. 20616
File 124426889774.jpg - (192.73KB , 800x600 , 02f8a889052a6b57bdbc42bc504a216f.jpg ) [iqdb]
20616
You go northwest, angling more toward the bandits' supposed location than the route to the valley's entrance. Though a trail of some kind likely exists between the village and the outside, you see no definite sign of it. As is not uncommon for you, with only a little idea as to how long the trip will take, your three companions keep only to the same pace on average. In particular, Patchouli proceeds steadily, Momizi continually looks ahead, and Suika ranges as the mood strikes her. Keeping up with any isn't particularly difficult for you, and you're all in earshot of each other, though maybe you should tighten up the formation as you get closer to the bandits... hm, later.

You find yourself up front, following closely beside Momizi, watching her as she moves at a swift walk, stops, moves, stops, looks—though she never approaches a jog, you almost feel like running to stay with her (instead, you lag a bit, catching up as she pauses). Her expression is steeled, eyes bright and sharp, scanning to the sides whenever she pauses—likely including Patchouli's position, since she never gets too far behind, though you regularly lose track of Suika for moments. And when she turns back to the front, you feel sure she's paying just as much attention to the next section of forest to traverse. Maybe you don't need to worry about the bandits catching you unawares, after all.

There was a time, in the past, somewhere in your gut below your conscious decisions, when those red eyes unnerved you. You never told her. Thank heaven, you never let it show. She was never other than helpful and honest to everyone in town, and eventually they came to think of her as... well, an odd neighbor, but good, and harmless, just as you came to be able to think of her as a sister. A rather cute, very reliable little sister, which is as much as any brother could ask for. But while the unease left, the curiosity remained. Someday, you'd like to know where she came from.

You had similar questions concerning Suika, but since she answers any such query immediately with, “I'm an oni, from... ah, the land of eternal fire!” you try not to bring it up again. It's extremely disconcerting the way she says it. She can't actually be from...

“Brother?”

You're startled out of your thoughts, immediately losing track. Bad, bad. You're supposed to be walking through a bandit-infested forest, and there you go getting lost in the past. You look, and there's Momizi's face, showing concern over her earlier expression.

“You looked worried.”

You shake your head, stepping forward to prompt her to continue walking. Patchouli hasn't caught up with you, so you were likely standing still for only a moment.

“About the village elder?” she asks, without having to stop.

What about Keine? Does she worry you? No, not particularly. Momizi said she wasn't human, but you don't even know what that could mean. There are a lot of things in this world that you don't know. (Isn't that just always the case?) She glances back to see you shaking your head. You walk.

A minute later, “Then, about your dream?”

Come to think of it, yes, a bit. Whatever that was, all you still have of it is a feeling of incredible strangeness, what you'd told everyone before, and a voice... maybe. A woman's pained voice. Yes, it does bother you a little, so you nod when Momizi glances back to see your answer.

“There's not really anything I can do by thinking about it. We haven't seen anything that puts any kind of context to what I remember. It's barely more than a feeling that there's someone I'm supposed to help.” You press forward, looking out into the forest, frowning a bit as you scan the area ahead only to see more trees. You have nothing against helping people. That's why you're traveling, isn't it? But not knowing how is frustrating—if you dwell on it, as you realize you're doing.

“Don't worry. We'll find them, and save everyone. I'm sure of it.”

You look back at the feeling of your hand of your hand being squeezed, and see Momizi's smile.

The smile disappears, her eyes widening.

As you turn to see what she sees, she grips your hand tightly, dragging you down to your knees behind her as she also kneels with her shield upraised. There's a metallic ping as her arm jerks, showing a feathered shaft extending two feet from the shield's rim. You can't see anyone—no, something is moving, the same color as the forest.

She lets go of you to draw her sword, shouting, “Bandits! Five 'r more!”

[ ] Advance
--[ ] ________
[ ] Withdraw
--[ ] ________
>> No. 20625
[x] Advance
--[x] Suika
[x] Withdraw
--[x] Patchouli
--[x] You
[x] Stand ground
--[x] Momizi

Foward tank, middle-guard, mages in back.
>> No. 20630
[x] Advance
--[x] Suika
[x] Withdraw
--[x] Patchouli
--[x] You
[x] Stand ground
--[x] Momizi
>> No. 20631
[x] Advance
--[x] Suika
[x] Withdraw
--[x] Patchouli
--[x] You
[x] Stand ground
--[x] Momizi
>> No. 20663
[M] Advance
--[a] Suika
[r] Withdraw
--[​i] Patchouli
--[​s] You
[a] Stand ground
--[~] Momizi
>> No. 20763
File 12447829541.jpg - (239.07KB , 476x700 , 1240523586358.jpg ) [iqdb]
20763
“Suika!”

“I'm on it!” Your call is returned from nearby on your left, as she darts forward.

“Miss Patchouli, take cover!” Momizi calls back without turning, just as a second arrow strikes into her shield, a quarter of the way around from the first hit. You haven't noticed any arrows but these last two fired, and still can't see the marksman. Risking a glance behind you, you can only see a bit of violet hair hanging by a tree. That's good enough, probably.

“I'll fall back as well.”

“Wait! He could be waiting for a clear shot.”

“I can't stay ducked behind you and you can't even fully cover yourself—”

You're interrupted by Suika's battle cry, and a crashing and breaking of trees. Taking this as a sign, you bolt for a large, blackened stump, opting to scramble around behind it rather than the more exposing route of leaping over it, as tempting as that was for a moment. (How did a single enormous tree burn down here, anyway... lightning?) There's still no sign of the bandits. That's odd... or is it? How did this go last time?

Ah, right, they shot at you and you went to them. Suika's already out there, while the rest of you are comparatively safe. This is less than ideal, but a better plan hadn't presented itself at the offset.

“Suika has removed the lead bandit. Four others close in on her, while an unknown number hide in further positions.” Patchouli states, deadpan, behind the tree to your right.

“Is she alright?”

“I can't see that much—except that she's uninjured.”

Still, a useful divination. You let that go unsaid, there being little time for compliments.

“It will be difficult to support her from here.”

[ ] _______________________
>> No. 20776
[x] Charge up your lightning spell
[x] Have Patchouli ready her best spell
--[x] Attack from afar
[x] During the attack, have Momizi take to the frontline with Suika, and you two follow closely behind. Remember to keep a safe enough distance to hold the formation.
>> No. 20779
[d] Charge up your lightning spell
[a] Have Patchouli ready her best spell
--[z] Attack from afar
[e] During the attack, have Momizi take to the front line with Suika, and you two follow closely behind. Remember to keep a safe enough distance to hold the formation.

Zap~
>> No. 20782
[x] Charge up your lightning spell
[x] Have Patchouli ready her best spell
--[x] Attack from afar
[x] During the attack, have Momizi take to the frontline with Suika, and you two follow closely behind. Remember to keep a safe enough distance to hold the formation.
>> No. 20800
[x] Charge up your lightning spell
[x] Have Patchouli ready her best spell
--[x] Attack from afar
[x] During the attack, have Momizi take to the frontline with Suika, and you two follow closely behind. Remember to keep a safe enough distance to hold the formation.
>> No. 21184
File 124706973358.jpg - (595.54KB , 580x819 , 79ea32f138a8e2aa64b0213ee40d720f.jpg ) [iqdb]
21184
I am so sorry.

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

“Forward! Hit them with all you have!”

Shield raised, Momizi charges in, seeking out the battle. You follow behind, mentally preparing yourself to begin drawing out the power for an attack spell. It would be easier if you could charge it while on the move, but stress and distraction make using magic in battle difficult in the first place, so those efforts are less than useful. It would also be easier if you could hit from any distance, but through this forest you're not even sure how far away the enemy lays in wait, and you need to see a target to hit it. Patchouli doesn't seem to have as much trouble with that, perhaps thanks to whatever magic she uses to sense things at a distance, though she's still chosen to follow along behind you. Well behind, her running as inefficient (and slightly piteous) as ever. Momizi had once offered to give her athletics training, but she protested unimportance, also claiming an inability to survive anything of the sort. No matter how Momizi argued, Patchouli wouldn't change her mind. Momizi eventually left, apparently to vent some frustration with a run through the hills and some activity that left a new set of straight notches in a wooden post outside the inn.

Thankfully, you've been doing this long enough that even a quick flashback to yesteryear isn't sufficient to meaningfully shake your concentration, so you're not startled when you come within sight of the (recently created) clearing in which Suika is fighting. Through the remaining trees between you and her, you can also see three—no, four opponents. A fifth joins in momentarily, all wielding different weapons. A spear, a mace, a set of daggers, a sword—you waste no more time, standing where you are and letting the power flow. By divine will, you are granted the powers of healing and protection. And to protect is to struggle against those who seek to harm—to strike down their strength. This is the core thought behind the surge of pulsing, incandescent energy assembling before you, the brightness hurting your eyes. While you can still contain it, you yell out your warning, trusting allies to know and react more quickly than enemies.

“Get down!”

Momizi, bless her ears, knocks back an opponent with her blade, then steps back, turning and ducking under her shield. Further to your left is Suika, grabbing a thrust spear and cracking the shaft in her grip. She doesn't seem to have heard you, but there isn't enough time. You loose the charged spell at one of the bandits behind both Suika and Momizi. As it reaches its target, the magic potential converts all at once, explosively, sending you from half-blind to fully stunned even though you'd closed your own eyes in preparation. Capriciously, the spell chose this day to work stronger than expected. Even blind, you have no trouble hearing the screams that follow the thunderclap.

It's several seconds before you can take in the results. As you get up from where you'd instinctively crouched, you can make out Suika just standing up to one side, and Momizi slashing from one enemy to the next on the other side, the stunned opponents offering no meaningful resistance. The one man with the daggers who'd taken the full impact of your attack is laying on the ground without apparent injury, but unmoving. You don't see Patchouli anywhere, and glance around quickly, trying to spot her again. You do, but it takes another moment to let your eyes focus and notice she's vocalizing some kind of incantation—what for is uncertain, as Suika slugs the last remaining opponent.

Or, no, he wasn't the last. You can see another running away in the forest, and there are shouts from deeper into the woods in several directions. None behind you, but it's otherwise starting to feel like you're surrounded.

Suika looks ready to take off after him when Momizi yells “Hold!”

She does, but her expression makes it clear she'd rather not. “We've got to keep after them, nothing good'll come out of letting them ring us in!”

“But they will if we just run in without looking!”

“We don't have time to look!”

“I know! That's why we need to fall back, hide, and prepare an ambush, it's our best bet of keeping the odds in our favor.”

“Brother Judas, I have a spell that may be useful here, but it would require luring our enemies all into one place, rather than letting them spread out to search for us.” Patchouli speaks quietly enough that you're not sure if the others heard. “And by the check I just made, at least a dozen approach.”

“Even more? How many people do they have?” you mutter, trying to focus your eyes through the forest's depths.

“That, I cannot say.”

[ ] Charge, divide and conquer!
[ ] Lay in wait, take them as they separate.
[ ] Lure them together, into a single trap.
[ ] Get back the way you came, to approach again from another angle before they've closed on you.

[ ] Determine formation: _____________________
>> No. 21204
[x] Get back the way you came, to approach again from another angle before they've closed on you.
[x] Preferably, try to change course and get behind them, then head the way they came from.
[x] Change formation. Suika in front, Momizi in back, you and Patchouli in the center. Keep close together; the knights guard the mages.
>> No. 21207
[x] Get back the way you came, to approach again from another angle before they've closed on you.
[x] Preferably, try to change course and get behind them, then head the way they came from.
[x] Change formation. Suika in front, Momizi in back, you and Patchouli in the center. Keep close together; the knights guard the mages.
>> No. 21234
[x] Lure them together, into a single trap.

This seems more likely to work. Surround them and take them out in one shot.
>> No. 21235
File 124735128481.jpg - (182.54KB , 616x610 , 637ff24058f0ec5e0283f859c40c636c.jpg ) [iqdb]
21235
>[x] Get back the way you came, to approach again from another angle before they've closed on you.
>[x] Preferably, try to change course and get behind them, then head the way they came from.

Normally I wouldn't say anything, but this simply won't work. You are surrounded on three sides. If you leave, you can avoid being surrounded. But if you go back in, you'll be surrounded again. If you want to get past without fighting, it would have to be through a path far removed from your current path, either in time or distance--and that's just for a chance at getting by without a fight.

In the current instance, you can adopt a plan to fight, or you can get away and hope for a better opportunity elsewhere.
>> No. 21237
[x] Lure them together, into a single trap.

This is what I get for voting on very little sleep. Oh well. This was my initial course of action before I saw the first vote.
>> No. 21238
[O] Lure them together, into a single trap.
>> No. 21312
[ze] Lure them together, into a single trap.

Fuck.
>> No. 21321
File 12479796823.jpg - (705.66KB , 1600x1200 , 7d8766f7addec6dd2ed33411b43e5506.jpg ) [iqdb]
21321
“Patchouli, what do you need?”

She glances from you to where Momizi and Suika stand, and points.

“Draw as many as you can to within twenty paces of here.”

“What are we supposed to do, stand in the open where they can hit us?” Suika asks.

“Just be close to the center when the spell's ready. Brother Judas, please assist me, we must hurry.” Patchouli seems unperturbed, even to Suika's irritation, and in spite of her own words.

You nod, not without trepidation, but knowing that uncertainty in what you've already decided to do—when it's too late to think of another plan—can only hurt you. You follow Patchouli back and slightly out of the clearing without any clear idea as to what she expects of you. She kneels down, and then takes both your (larger) hands in her own, carefully and thoroughly feeling your palms and knuckles.

“Er...” Following her lead, you kneel.

“I'll prepare the design and the focus, and direct the magic.” She says this while dropping several small, gem-like objects from a pocket to the ground, then again taking hold of your hands and staring closely at your fingers. “Don't worry.”

“Then—”

“I've already started.” She lets her arms fall, still holding onto you. “Just—relax. Then concentrate... as if preparing your own... I'll... handle...”

Her voice trails away, but her lips continue to move as her eyes grow vacant. A tingle grows in your fingers, followed by a spark you feel but couldn't see. You stiffen at the sensation, then force yourself to relax, falling into a practiced state of focused awareness. You're therefore able to feel the strength being drawn through your own body even as you observe Patchouli's preparation, and watching her proves fascinating. There's a subtle glow about her, and the air turns in odd eddies, brushing past her hair. From her, electric sparks still seem to dance up your hands, but you ignore them. Her eyes are closed, something you can't afford while directing magic, but perhaps it hasn't reached the stage that it needs direction, yet.

Without breaking your concentration, you notice, passively, that the noise outside has grown louder. You can only see most of the clearing peripherally, but the sound tells you that the others have gone further into the woods. Drawing the enemy to you... it is safer that way, rather than staying in the open from the beginning. Hopefully. If you had the time, you might regret not seeing Suika fight, as...

A mental reflex returns your awareness before there's a chance of losing control of the building magic. Patchouli's glow couldn't be mistaken for merely good health, now, and light similarly shines from points of the ground around her. From the lights, lines—

Close voices, blows being struck in the clearing.

—patterns form, concentric circles, bisected, chords to angles to stars, rays turn sharply, cross—

A familiar, distressed voice.

—symbols, letters, words, meaning, order arising from chaos, no, chaos revealed as immature order, now complete—

Your strength is pulled from you, down and out and into the ground.

—completing, intersecting, interlocking, finishing, growing—

Growth.

It's finished, at last. You know it is because you no longer feel like you're being sucked into the spell. It wasn't exactly unpleasant, in the way that watching lightning strike close by isn't exactly unpleasant. The thought of whether or not it's always like this for Patchouli, when she's casting, crosses your mind. This thought passes in a moment, because what's going on outside your head demands more immediate attention.

With great force, earth is raked up in a line heading from you to the clearing's center, where your two friends stand back-to-back among more than a dozen foes. Where the dust settles, the reason for the earth's motion is visible as the movement of coiling, wooden roots as thick as your leg, now branching throughout the area, though only breaching the surface here and there. With far greater unnatural swiftness, the bark bursts into a net of thinner, vine-like branches, raising out of the ground from every side of the battlefield. Momizi turns to stare in amazement, and Suika throws a man off her and onto the spreading plant mass. It reacts by coiling around him, just as it reacts to each of the men who chose to run for breaks in its growing wall. They shout in futility as it continues to fill the fight's area, the magic not yet completed until every one is tightly held by one limb or another. Even as one bandit brings a surge of strength to bear in breaking his arm from its sudden lock, other roots pull him down by his feet.

“You did it.”

“Hm, yes...” As you both stand, she falls against you. “Won't hold... long. They can still... hack through.”

But you know it'll be long enough for you and the others to take them down with relative ease, without burdening Patchouli further. You heft your staff, the magical effort having done little to drain your physical strength, unlike her case.

An explosion from the far side interrupts you, but through the vines you can't really tell what—wait, no, that's obviously smoke and flames, you just can't tell where they're—

The wooden lattice is blasted apart, pieces flying everywhere, and a figure jumps through the opening. Suika charges, but there's another explosion, this purely of smoke. Suika isn't the one that emerges from that cloud, not ten feet from you.

A woman. A rather clean one, considering she's surrounded by miles of forest inhabited only by bandits. Long, white hair, decorated in ribbons. Lightly clothed, including wide, less-than-womanly leggings. But there's nothing light about her step, particularly apparent as her right foot rams your chest like a blunted spear, and a second hit knocks you flat on your back, staff fallen from your fingertips. Turning your head to the side, you can see Patchouli fallen to her hands and knees, slowly getting up again. Your attention is then grabbed entirely by the woman stepping onto your chest and leaning forward, hands on her hips. Her lips part, first in a grin, and then to speak.

“Kid, we need to talk.”

[ ] _________________________
>> No. 21322
[x] "Alright..."

What else are we going to say really? Not a lot we can do in this situation?
>> No. 21334
[z] "All right..."
[e] "Hard to talk while being stood on, though."
>> No. 21338
Hint: Think ahead.
>> No. 21339
The best thing to do in the situation though would be to either talk it out, or distract the person long enough for the combatants who can actually handle the person in front of us to regroup with us, at least from my perspective.
>> No. 21378
File 124840091621.jpg - (230.29KB , 660x500 , 1190941155813.jpg ) [iqdb]
21378
“Alright.” What else could you say in this situation?

The thought of stalling crosses your mind, but it's too late to make any kind of signal to the others, even as you hear them approaching—one growling, the other calling out “Brother!”

“None o' that, now.” The white-haired woman steps off to your side, and pulls you roughly to your feet even as you try standing on your own. She stands facing you, Suika, and Momizi. “Glad for the cooperation, I am. We are being cooperative, right?”

Patchouli you see to your side, looking little better, unsteady as she is on her feet. Beyond the others, you can see the bandits freeing themselves.

[ ] Affirmative response.
[ ] ____________________.
>> No. 21379
[x] "As long as there is no more fighting, then yes. Just remember that any hostile actions towards us will result in hostile actions directed back at you. Now then, what is it that you require of us?"
>> No. 21381
File 124841184712.png - (641.61KB , 850x850 , 1221048.png ) [iqdb]
21381
"As long as there is no more fighting, then yes. Just—”

“Great!” She slaps your back, and you stumble forward a step. “Save our strength for later. Now let's get the hell out of here.”

You steady your footing and turn back to face her. Patchouli leans on Momizi while Suika stands glaring at you and the bandit woman. To the left, the other bandits are falling into a half-circle behind Suika, looking no less angered.

“Just remember that any hostile actions towards us—”

“I get it, don't worry. Let's go.”

“Hold on. What is it that you require of us?”

“Besides you coming with me?”

“Yes, besides that.”

“Tell you when we get there. You've got the word of the Fujiwara.” Her eyes flicker to the right.

[ ] Affirmative.
[ ] Questioning.
[ ] Negative.
>> No. 21382
[x] "Tell these guys to back down before my friend turns them into a fine paste."
>> No. 21385
[x] Questioning.

>>21382

You like getting cut off mid sentence, don't you?
>> No. 21386
[x] Questioning.
>> No. 21392
>>21385

As long as we try to say it, then we've provided sufficient warning that they're going to get their ass kicked if they try anything which they refused to heed.
>> No. 21393
[ze] Questioning.

>>21385
He does.
>> No. 21408
[x] Affirmative.
[x] Stay alert.
>> No. 21433
File 124885654558.jpg - (151.12KB , 1200x1200 , ed8a8470c142e0c92aa1bb0be976ee4db.jpg ) [iqdb]
21433
You question her, "What does that mean?"

"What's what mean?" Her tone shows impatience and irritation.

"Should that name be familiar to me?"

"It... is familiar to me." Glancing to the side, you see that Patchouli now seems to be recovering quickly. "A noble house, though not prominently known this far from their territory. Their word may hold value, if genuine."

"So," you continue with the question left hanging, "Why are you here, and what do you want with us?"

"You don't think that's what I want to talk about?" she says, then grabs your shoulder. Under the circumstances, her touch is unwelcome and unpleasant, but doing more than taking half a step back to avoid her might cost you your dignity and still prove fruitless. She leans forward and hisses close to your face, "Now are you stupid, or do you think I'm stupid? Or why is it you can't see I need to talk back at the camp before anything else gets said?" The emphasis is oddly placed.

You take a quick check of your party's condition:

Momizi appears well, little having gotten past her shield. She's looking at the ring of bandits, so you can't quite catch her eye, but she looks worried. She's been doing that a lot on this journey. Suika is paying more attention to the leader than to anyone else, and is obviously angry. She looks scratched and beaten, but her stamina's as unflagging as ever. Patchouli looks like she might be able to get back to the fight, though you can only imagine what that last spell cost her, considering you feel moderately drained, yourself. Other than that, and a few developing bruises, your own condition is fine.

[ ] Affirmative.
--[ ] ...without fuss, and with all due haste.
--[ ] ...while keeping your distance, and with all due caution.
[ ] Negative.
--[ ] ...with immediate force.
--[ ] ...reasonably, if possible.
>> No. 21434
[x] Affirmative.
--[x] Tell her to get rid of the bandits to help establish mutual trust.
>> No. 21457
[x] Affirmative.
--[x] ...without fuss, but while still staying cautious.

I'm willing to trust her, but to get too comfortable would be just silly.
>> No. 21464
[z] Affirmative.
--[e] ...without fuss, but while still staying cautious.
>> No. 21783
File 125204482279.jpg - (1.25MB , 1200x1000 , a20f25a6bc3cab661cd909cbe2c0565c.jpg ) [iqdb]
21783
You raise and your head, and there's a barely noticeable pause before you nod.

“C'mon.”

She raises a hand overhead and gestures back the way she'd come, turning around and walking past Suika, who steps out of the way without once taking her eyes off of the bandit leader. Momizi looks from her to you, tucks away her sword and falls in between you. You give a hand to Patchouli and follow, Suika walking just behind you.

“I don't like her.” Suika says.

“I know.”

“Smoke screens. Coward.”

“I saw.”

“Magic without incantation...” Patchouli mutters, trailing into inaudibility. You wait for her to continue, but she stops, just staring at the bandit's back. Or at the long white hair covering it. She can't be old enough for age to have robbed her hair of color, and keeping it long while living in a forest is difficult enough without whitening it. Come to think of it...

Keeping to the low tone, you ask, “Could she be a natural magic user—a sorceress? It would explain what she was able to do.” And her hair color wouldn't be the tenth oddest side-effect you've heard of sorcery causing.

“'Sorceress' is not the correct term, but possibly.” comes the response.

“I'll fight her yet...” Suika continues.

“You may still get the chance.”

Momizi doesn't add anything to the conversation, though she should just be able to hear. She does glance back at you, along with watching the force of bandits. They're mostly ahead of you to either side, but seem to have grown as you walk deeper into the forest, and it's starting to look like—no, you were effectively surrounded awhile ago. It's hard to tell if there really are more of them than there were before. You all continue, more or less quietly, further in the direction of the camp—presumably.

Finally, you've arrived. Though the hour is late, numerous fires mark the extent of the camp and light the sprawl of fur-covered tents and stick-and-mud huts. All you can be sure of in this lighting is that many people have made their home here. It's difficult to imagine what could be sustaining them all, particularly for such a long period, since whatever trade came through this valley must have already halted some time ago. The answer could lie with those furs—if parts of the forest are as wild as the caves you came through to get here, there should be some valuable hunting.

Nothing like a “the chief sits here” sign distinguishes the fire you're led to from any other part of the camp, though it is well away from the campground's edges. Fujiwara, if that's really a name she's entitled to (she has hardly the appearance of a noble as Patchouli described, though foreigners can look as strange as pleases them), sits down by one side of the fire and kicks the remnants of a log half-covered in dying embers. It flares back to life, and she sits down.

“Go on, sit.”

You can't help but take a look around, noting that your “escort” has scattered throughout the camp—though some remain close enough that they're probably listening in—while your companions are by your side. You sit.

“Name's Mokou. Mokou of the Fujiwara. Only daughter of the last head. You?” She gives a frustrated, longing look to a long smoking pipe before setting it to lean against the leather wall behind her.

Seeing Patchouli's nod, you're a little more comfortable with giving your name. You are speaking to a noble, aren't you? And doesn't her description make her an heiress, or something? That is, if women can succeed a clan in her homeland. You still don't know actually know anything about her home's circumstances, come to that.

“I am Judas, and merely a traveling monk.”

She nods, “Yeah, I gathered it was something like that. Going around, teaching the good word, holding onto hope, fighting tyrants, righting wrongs, that kind of thing, am I right?”

“Er... I haven't fought any tyrants that I'm aware of...”

“But you would if you could, right?”

“Of course, and we'd win.” Momizi steps in, sounding like she's a bit worked up over something that was just said.

“That is not strictly the purpose of our journey.” Patchouli objects.

“But it isn't apart from the purpose, as anyone can see.” Suika chimes in.

Everyone be quiet, please, I don't even know what's going on, anymore... Why are we here?

Your vision swims for the barest moment, and then you return to reality. Mokou's looking at you—no one else.

“Now, you want to know why we're here, right?”

“Yes, that is the reason we followed you here.” Finally.

“I won't get into the whole story, but it's... Okay, I'm chasing a princess.”

Of course, the heir to a clan would, if possible, desire a valuable political liaison using marriage—

“Wait, what?”

“Not like that.” As if reading your confused mind, her face is full of scorn. “I have to take revenge on her. She... took certain actions that resulted in the humiliation of my clan and practically destroyed our political strength, not to mention—she did bad things, okay? Bad enough to make me pick up a chunk of my family wealth, leave my homeland, hire a bunch of rowdy trappers to follow me, and hunt that high-class bitch all the way—here. Somewhere in this valley, somewhere I know—” she says in a conspiratorial whisper, leaning toward you, “—she's holed up, like a snake in its nest. She and that alchemist guard-bitch of hers.”

“An alchemist?” Trying to see how this factors in, Patchouli takes the opportunity to explain.

“A general term for practitioners of a variety of arts dealing with the study and use of substances on living and inanimate matter for the purpose of transformation, in the broadest sense. Magic may or may not be involved depending on the specific discipline.”

“Yes, that's the thing, right. Thanks.” Mokou nods... somewhat dismissively, you think. “Of course she can't do anything on her own, so my enemy—the one I have to face—is that alchemist. And that's why I haven't just gone in and gotten her. It was too dangerous—too much chance that it'd all be for nothing, and I'd walk away with nothing to do but start all over trying to raise an army.”

“That's what you're doing here—this is an army for the purpose of your revenge?”

“Yes, that's exactly what it is.” With a sweeping gesture, she takes in the camp of fur, mud, and a not unnoticeable smell of many people living in one area a distance from any large water source.

“Then why the—”

“The bandit angle? I need—really, we need—the funds. I couldn't pay the upkeep of even a small army with just what I took from home. I can't reign them in all the time when we're struggling just for the basics, here. They stay because I promised them the wealth of the alchemist's lair. And there is wealth in there. She's got everything she wants—every luxury, every ingredient. And that's what I'm offering you.”

...Of course, that's what this was all about.

“Help me out.”

[ ] Nod.
[ ] Don't nod.
>> No. 21784
File 125204727868.jpg - (384.61KB , 2704x1000 , a186c628f30a0875ebeaeedb.jpg ) [iqdb]
21784
"Why can't you take her on by yourself?"

"Space-rabbit marines."
>> No. 21798
[x] Nod.

Should make for a fun storyline.
>> No. 21807
[x] Nod.
>> No. 21809
[ze] Don't nod.
>> No. 21811
[ ] Nod.

A quest's a quest.
>> No. 22043
[x] Nod.
>> No. 22410
File 125433704985.jpg - (1.65MB , 2039x3386 , 9995ef3f385e1d63c299e7444ffe5652.jpg ) [iqdb]
22410
You nod.

“Alright, finally!” She claps her hands and stands, shouting out to the camp.

“Everyone, to arms within the hour! Too slow, an' you're left behind. Riches to the victors!”

A half-hearted cheer responds, growing thereafter. Blades rattle, armor is drawn out and cleaned with no-cleaner rags, men talk and laugh and pull their packs from within the tents or go inside for one last, quick nap. Everywhere, they move, the camp coming alive a little more. The tension of waiting drops away, replaced with the anticipation of of conflict and success.

Mokou turns back to you. “That goes for you, too. Do whatever you want until then.”

[ ] Rest.
[ ] Practice.
[ ] Rest with...
[ ] Discuss tactics with...

[ ] Momizi
[ ] Patchouli
[ ] Suika
>> No. 22418
[x] Discuss tactics with...
-[x] Momizi
-[x] Patchouli
>> No. 22420
[x] Discuss tactics with...
-[x] Momizi
-[x] Patchouli
Better be working as a team, but as far as I can see is having Suika do whatever she wants (tank) so the rest of us can deal some real damage.
>> No. 22421
[X] Discuss tactics with...
-[X] Momizi
-[X] Patchouli

I can work with that.
>> No. 22431
File 125452668642.gif - (10.01KB , 800x600 , potleaf_basic_800x600.gif ) [iqdb]
22431
[~] Discuss tactics with...
-[ℤ] Momizi
-[ℯ] Patchouli

>>18234
I really like the way the blade looks in the OP picture. Then I clicked on it because I never had in the five months or so that this thread has been up. It looks even nicer full-sized.

...However, on closer examination, I'd almost swear that was a pot leaf at the forefront of the inlay.
>> No. 22452
File 125480129970.jpg - (540.93KB , 1625x1125 , 576a784839d1f2345044ed63f710538a.jpg ) [iqdb]
22452
A few minutes later, you're gathered near a fire the bandits are letting you use. A broth is set to heat, some of your rations thrown into it. Stewing makes it just a little more bearable to eat, and you've got enough time to wait for it. Suika has walked off, discontent to remain nearby. Worrying about her would, of course, be pointless.

“Patchouli, how are you holding up?”

“As well as usual. I have plenty of reserves remaining, have no worry.” Taking a mug from Momizi, she blows the steam from it before touching it to her tongue. You wait for her to finish, taking your own serving.

“That's good. It looks like we have a hard fight ahead.”

“Brother... is this the right thing for us to do? We're getting into a battle for someone we know little of but that she leads sellswords and robbers, men with whom we've fought. How can we be sure that we're on the right course, and not aiding a villain?” Momizi speaks from across the fire, taking her own dish.

“Against a villain, at the least.” Patchouli says.

“Maybe, and maybe not—of the alchemist we know nothing at all.”

Patchouli shakes her head, but says nothing. Looking through the smoke and steam, you find that despite the uncertainty of her words, Momizi's expression is as calmly, assuredly stoic as you've ever seen it. Utterly confident—but in what? That she'll know what to do when it comes to it? That you'll know what to do?

“We'll see first-hand what she's speaking of, and whether her goal is noble or not, this will get her and hers to leave the people alone. The village of Devern, I mean.”

You're returned a nod, before she tilts the bowl to her lips. Yes, she is trusting you, as always. Taking a few moments to think on it, you start to feel a little of the same confidence. This is the only method of removing the bandits that's opened itself to you, isn't it? And you can deal with whatever situation arises afterward, somehow. Right. On to matters immediate.

“Patchouli, can you explain more about alchemy, and what we'll be dealing with?”

“Of course, but—I'm afraid that alchemy is a very broad field. Our opponent's specialty could be anything from poisons to transformative golems.”

“Golems?”

“Yes. Certain, refined substances have been said to allow the infusion of life into nonliving objects, specifically regarding alchemy. Naturally, pure sorcery allows similar feats. More often, alchemists focus on the refinement of artificial materials for use by others, or on medical arts. These are the two main kinds.”

“It would be fortunate if this one were of the refining kind, but the way Mokou spoke of her, she sounded capable in her own right. And so, we should expect her skills to be personally dangerous.” Momizi adds.

“That was also my thought.” Patchouli agrees.

“A poisoner could explain how she caused such trouble for a noble family,” you muse, “but concerning the princess...”

“No doubt, other retainers were brought with her. Few enough to hide, but enough to care for a high noble.” Momizi picks up. “They should be the bulk of our enemies. This princess herself, she's probably good for little in a fight.”

“Fortunate that we've got an army, eh.” You lick the side of the wooden mug. Good enough for a meal. Too much and you'd have difficulty marching, anyway. Not enough time to be leisurely about it, alas.

“We should have several options in that regard. I can attempt to deal with a large number of enemies as I did before, but we'll need to alert our current allies if they're to make use of such an advantage.”

“Alternate plan:” You nearly jump to your feet as Suika leans over your shoulder. “We smash through them and hit the boss.”

“Plans are quickly lost when fighting begins.” Momizi adds. “But we should at least note a goal. In... in my own opinion, we should take the first opportunity to discover the truth of the matter.”

“Discover what how?” Suika leans farther over you, giving her a hard look.

“What this is really about. How, I don't know... we look.” she finishes weakly.

[ ] Plan: _________________
>> No. 22453
I like Suika's plan. Reasoning and discovering the truth is for chumps. You can sort that out from the corpses. SMASH AND BASH!

[x] Plan: Go with Suika's idea, with a twist!
[x] Destroy the princess's forces with pure force. Capture the princess and the alchemist, then turn around and take out the bandits under the employ of Mokou, capture Mokou and take them all back to the village.
>> No. 22454
[x] Go with Patchouli's tactic, inform the others, and
[x] Perhaps use the chaos to investigate while questing.

It wouldn't do us much good if we ended up ruining our reputations.
>> No. 22456
Needs more plan.

A good plan.
>> No. 22457
>>22454
Okay, maybe like that one, yes. I'm going to wait a bit before voting to see what else shows up, as I'm a horrible tactician.

And lazy, too.
>> No. 22461
>>22454

Both sides have caused evil so it's not like it would be as if we were harming innocents.
>> No. 22462
Information sounds good, but I doubt the cannon fodder has much of it, besides they are likely to be fanatic about their princess anyway. We probably have to fight our way through them regardless and save our questioning for the alchemist or the princess, however late it may be then. Managing to capture one of them, or a bunny-eared general, early on would be ideal for getting to know their side of the story.
So, making a vote of it:
[X] Follow Patchouli's strategem as far as simple soldiers are concerned. Inform Mokou and her troops about it too.
[X] When faced with some kind of seargant or generally higher-up, try to capture him/her alive and concious (probably no time to wait for them to wake in the middle of the battle). Do NOT inform Mokou about this, as this is generally acting in distrust against her.
[X] Act according to intel afterwards.

Feel free to expand, just throwing out a general idea here.
>> No. 22465
>>22461
This post hurts to read.
>> No. 22467
>>22465
What? Got a problem with flawless logic? Both sides are wrong, therefore remove them and let the only group we've seen as being just handle them.
>> No. 22468
>>22467

I think it's more the matter of which is the greater evil and dealing with it. Since perhaps resolving things for Mokou will have her stop using her bandits and bring peace.
>> No. 22486
>>22468
Eh, I guess since we're a cleric and not a paladin, we can let evil slide as long as it does stop. Still not fond of it though.
>> No. 22496
These votes are insufficient.
>> No. 22501
Come on, less discussing logic and more voting, I want to be CAVE'd again.
>> No. 22508
[x] >>22462

>>22467
I was remarking more on the bad grammar, but:
>What? Got a problem with flawless logic?
...Now I know you're a confrontational prick, too.
>> No. 22512
[x] >>22462
>> No. 22535
>>22508
Oh, well if that was the case, then I agree. I really have no idea what I was doing when I wrote that. Probably got fucked up due to my tendency to reword things after writing them and then hitting submit without making sure it still makes sense.
>> No. 22548
>>22535
Oh? Well, fair enough.

And thank you for not being a butthurt jackass about it. Too many of the newfags coming in get arrogant and/or bitchy when someone calls them on their shit.
>> No. 22550
File 125592882077.jpg - (854.09KB , 900x1001 , 01a0162ec29126f4462283ddd83b60cf.jpg ) [iqdb]
22550
“Make whatever preparations you need, Patchouli. I'll tell Mokou to have her people ready. And, if possible, we'll take capture a lieutenant—alive and conscious, so we can get our answers quickly.”

As Patchouli nods an acknowledgement, Momizi comments, “If she holds the princess' retainers responsible, Mokou won't like us doing that.”

Patchouli and Suika agree. “Following a journey of vengeance, she seeks complete victory.” “No mercy for the fallen, I'll bet.”

“That's why... we won't tell her. There should be enough going on that she won't bother us over it.” Hopefully. Interrogation isn't exactly something you can do in the middle of a fight, without anyone noticing.

Suika walks around from behind you. “Huh? We're fighting with the rest of the bandits after all?”

“No,” Momizi shakes her head. “Merely seeking information. After we have it, we'll know what to do.”

Suika sits down, responding, “Eh, probably a waste of time, but sure. Things are rarely as complicated as people think they are.” Patchouli hmphs disagreement.

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

Mokou responded well enough to details of how you'd help in the fight. Without knowing the terrain you'll be in, you can't make specific plans, but she relayed instructions to her men to be ready for a magically-assisted opening. Patchouli said only that she would focus on immobilizing the enemy, as she did earlier, and that that would be far easier than attempting to accurately injure a large group. At the least, she could make something to get in the way, and give you time to deal with any surprises. Shortly after this was settled, you left.

Now Mokou leads the way, having chosen not to send anyone ahead. In her words, no one knows this path better than her, and she'll have a better chance of destroying anything in the way than a scout would have of remaining unseen, with this force following after. As she gestures with a boar spear in the direction you're to travel you can only think that, whether or not she's right, it's been an uneventful trip so far.

Time passes. The sun lowers. It sets.

You grow hungry.

“Jerky?” Suika says, offering you dry, twisted clump of meat. You accept it gratefully, only momentarily wondering when she picked it up. With something to set your teeth to, your strength renews, and the pace you've already set seems easy.

“Almost there,” Mokou calls back quietly.

A nightingale's song picks up, suddenly punctuated and ended by an explosive burst of flame. Mokou curses, loudly.

“What? What was that?” You try to find some remains of what the fire hit, but fail.

“A sentry—one of the alchemist's toys.”

“So they know we're here. C'mon!” Suika rushes forward, unsurprisingly. Mokou follows quickly after, everyone surging around you.

“Momizi, I'll require your assistance—” Patchouli starts.

“I'll watch over you closely; just focus on your part.” comes her reply.

From ahead, a beast roars—and others quickly join it. You forge ahead, fighting through increasingly dense underbrush. The thickening canopy blocks out even starlight, and the moon is nowhere in sight. Fortunately, firelight soon replaces the need for stars, as oil-soaked torches come to life on all sides. It is through this light, and its flickering multitude of shadows, that you spot the first of the defenders.

It's a bear. It's a damn bear. Bloody hell.

It's also very angry, but you're not the closest to it, so that anger is directed elsewhere. You can't see Suika from here, but Mokou is easy to spot, just before the explosion of smoke that accompanies her attack. Now you can't see her, but you can still hear her, even over the yelling. The other yelling, that is. It accompanied the arrival of a great deal of rather loud wildlife. Meanwhile, Mokou's words penetrate at last.

“Break through, before she closes the door!”

Is that a panther?

[ ] Ask Patchouli to make sense of this madness, then act.
[ ] Rush to aid your allies with your own skills; trust them to do their jobs.
[ ] Do as Mokou bids. Charge!
>> No. 22551
[x] Rush to aid your allies with your own skills; trust them to do their jobs.

We're used to chaotic situations. We can handle it.
>> No. 22552
[x] Rush to aid your allies with your own skills; trust them to do their jobs.
>> No. 22553
[ ] Rush to aid your allies with your own skills; trust them to do their jobs.
>> No. 22554
[x] Rush to aid your allies with your own skills; trust them to do their jobs.
>> No. 22555
[ℤℯ] Rush to aid your allies with your own skills; trust them to do their jobs.

Damn, did Kaguya hire Nrvnqsr for security staffing or something? Bear, panther, spying birds...
>> No. 22942
I wish this would update.
>> No. 23034
It will soon enough, the author had to deal with being sick for a week and then taking care of all the work he missed in that time.
>> No. 23361
Just noting: Still alive. Still planning on finishing this story. Currently in crunch week.
>> No. 24553
File 126437549428.jpg - (713.66KB , 1300x827 , 7f3e301e191cca39e381e255eff9a64a.jpg ) [iqdb]
24553
There's a twitch, a static glimmer in the air behind the trees, and in a burst of white noise you lose sight of yourself. The momentary worry as to what this means quickly passes, as you forget why it shouldn't be. You're no one, merely observing the events in the forest below. Then you settle behind another's eyes.

From here, everything is sharply in focus—the leaves of the trees in the darkness stand out in stark contrast to each other, the smells of plant and earth and furred and feathered animals, the rising sounds of shouting men and the guardian creatures they mean to face in battle, and the gentle sweeping of the night wind over your face and the skin left exposed by the looseness of your clothing. A little more warmth might be welcome, but restriction of either legs or arms would be as good as disarming yourself.

You draw your sword, hefting it carefully as you bring it up to guard, uncertain as yet as to how the enemy will attack. A quick glance to either side reveals something coming along the ground to your left, a small, scampering animal to the right, a predatory cat directly forward and, of course, Patchouli directly behind you. She's just beginning her incantation, but it's already taking her full attention, leaving the matter of her defense entirely to you. No complaints from here.

You leap into the air, folding your legs up under you just as the snake reaches striking range. Your foot comes down onto its body, crushing it a foot and a half from the head, but as the head continues to writhe in ways you've never seen a live animal attempt, you quickly bring down your other foot to stomp out its remaining life. The delay proves almost too much, as you must step back and to the side in a spin, sword flashing out to neatly severe the rabbit-shape that launches itself at Patchouli, dividing it from between its jaws (set with teeth no garden raiding pest should grow) to its tail. Then the black-furred panther silently knocks you down.

Levering your shield between you and it, you try in vain to avoid its raking claws as you get your sword out from under you and in a position to swing. It scores along your arm, tearing ribbons of flesh as you stab at it clumsily, the weight and curve of your blade working against your motion. Still, it backs off just enough of its weight for you to get your feet under you, and its next lunge up over your shield meets an overhand swing that cleaves through ones of its paws and into its skull. Spasming, it only falls still several seconds after you dislodge your weapon.

Patchouli is unharmed. Thank goodness. Where is—

The world shifts, moving quickly forward and back.


Everything is blurred, the night refusing to give its secrets to your sight. No matter. What the eyes cannot see, the mind does, to those minds that know the paths, the ways, and the secrets. And whatever you may lack, you do not lack for this.

First, the targets must be found. You draw upon your memory, the appropriate sequence immediately coming to the fore, as if the illustrations themselves were held before you under the very candlelight you first read them by. You will into existence the connection between yourself and the powers you call on, channeling it through your soul and into the patterns you reflexively draw in the air. The symbols glow, faintly and briefly, followed by the sound of a chime. As the sound races back and forth between the trees, it illuminates every living thing, the glowing force of their life acting as beacons on which to focus your attention. As you begin the harder work of preparing the spell to immobilize your enemies, these lights remain in your mind. While forging the connection to the primal forces of the earth and forest, you check each light, removing here from sight one of the ruffians with whom you've allied, and disregarding there one of your companions, leaving at last only the faint lights of the half-living homunculi.

The preparation of the next step is nothing so simple, and it takes you precious moments to analyze the structure of the forest here. Foreign things, living things, complex structures, these introduce complications into your work, but traveling as you do, this manner of hardship is to be expected, and you've been accustomed to it since long ago. Other magicians might balk at using an environment with entirely unknown lines of power, hesitant lest some roused spirit throw their work down over their heads. Far safer to use simple conjurations that are the same everywhere—fire and ice thrown to here and to there.

You smile slightly, hands outstretch, as you once again confirm that you're better than that.

The earth stirring with strengthened life, you direct and control, attention moving throughout the battlefield. Here, the wayward noble Mokou tears rats away from her body, smashing them against a tree. There, Suika advances ahead of a line of bandits, no doubt exulting in—

Flicker.


You race through the forest, following the sounds of prey—specifically, anyone and anything that gets in the way or runs. The former is easier, you note, as a bear rears up before you, roaring. Your continue forward, leaping without hesitation, your fist impacting the hardened muscles of its chest. Your second strike follows immediately and in the same spot, driving it a step backward as it almost falls. Twisting your chain through the air before your own feet touch the ground, you loop about its neck, both holding it in place and giving you something to launch up as you drive your head into its face, breaking the latter. Still holding yourself to its shoulders by that anchor, you give it several more kicks to the jaw as it falls, and then it's time to move on.

Huh? Given time for your thoughts to catch up to your body, you wonder why it didn't fall at the first hit. Alchemist toys must be tougher than normal beasts. Makes sense.

Something falls on you like a tangle of rope, wrapping itself around you and biting your right arm, left leg, and the side of your stomach in rapid succession. Grabbing at two of the snakes by their heads, they seem determined not to let go, and even your fingers the size of yours aren't able to wedge in under their fangs. This will require some thought.

If force doesn't work, you're not doing it right, you think.

Taking one of their bodies in both hands, you grasp and twist in opposite directions, straining to keep a solid grip on the slickly scaled body. Your fingers dig into it, and it breaks apart, loosening the hold of its jaws.

One down, and you grasp the second as a spotted leopard bounds toward you, its leap suddenly arrested by a network of vines sprouting out of the ground, against it which it struggles to snap at you, unable to bring its claws up.

You snap apart the second snake, and give the leopard a close-fisted smack to the side of the head that leaves its left eye crushed to uselessness as well as tearing it from the vines' embrace. It doesn't get up, so you wipe the blood from your knuckles before getting to the last snake. It's good to fight without holding back, again, though the opponents could be better. All that not-killing business was tiring. You get back to moving forward, keeping one ear cocked to the men coming up behind you. Fighting the lot of them together would be more fun, if it comes to that...

Suddenly, the forest breaks into a short clearing, past which you see some single-storied, solidly overgrown building with what's more of an unaccountably large gate than a simple door on the side facing you. It's open, but slowly closing, and the two sides coming to cover the entrance look more like stone blocks than wooden panels. In front of you, barring the way, are creatures you've never seen before. Like massive insects, standing on the back four legs and raising the front two, the upper pair ending in blades rather than grasping feet. Each stands twice your height, and there are half a dozen of them. Their eyes are small and hooded within their heads, and all focused on you.

You...

[ ] ...charge the door.
[ ] ...charge the guards.
>> No. 24554
[x] ...charge the door.
>> No. 24555
...holy shit.

[x] ...charge the door.
>> No. 24572
File 126440807581.jpg - (447.47KB , 887x1024 , 294abc9bb5cb6eab1f339f0cad20eaa0.jpg ) [iqdb]
24572
With a challenging shout, you charge, chains swinging in quick circles over your head, until you push with all your might against against the ground, and jump. The nearest two enemies make quick, precise motions with their bladed arms as they twitch


You put one hand to your forehead, fighting down a mounting headache. You can't afford such an inconvenience now, not with Patchouli still draining herself, and Momizi's cuts need to be bandaged over the tender, regrown flesh replacing what she'd lost less than minutes ago.

“Brother, this is fine.” She puts one hand over yours, pulling it off her arm. “I can tighten a cloth without help. More importantly—”

“Suika has advanced ahead of the fighting. She is isolated with a number of larger enemies.” Patchouli says from within her trance, her eyes still not really seeing her surroundings as she continues to direct the spell now letting your allies finish off the enemy.

“Again?” You try to be surprised, but you can't be. There's no question as to why she went ahead—it's because that's where the enemy was. What you can question is whether the enemy intended to lure and surround her. Why were the enemies gathered where she found them, and not pushing against the attackers?

Of course, because their goal was purely defensive from the beginning...

“We must support her.” Momizi's already responded by the time you've considered the reasons for the event.

“The way ahead is clearing...” Patchouli says in a voice you strain to catch. She seems to be right, at least insofar as you see none of the homunculi nearby.

Tersely, “Follow us as able. We go!”

Without waiting for further confirmation, Momizi disappears ahead. You hurry after her with only moderate worry for Patchouli. The sounds of Mokou's men around you is reassuring, now, as by their shouts and the light of their torches you'd be able to easily tell from where the enemy attacked. For now, you have to push yourself to keep Momizi in sight, her steps being far more certain across the shadowed leaves and roots than your own.

When you reach the clearing, the battle there is already over. Corpses of unidentifiable creatures, man-sized monsters, are scattered about. Mokou stands nearby, and after turning to see you, jerks her head toward the slightly open doorway set in what you realize to be a building completely overgrown with vine and bramble. Purposeful camouflage, perhaps. In any case, you still don't see Suika—

Momizi rushes in, sword drawn, and you can only follow. Within, you see only a wide, downward ramp set into the center of the only room, leading to some basement. She stops just after entering, and you look to where her eyes were drawn, to the small figure in the corner near the door, leaning against a heavy bar and lock mechanism.

It takes you a moment to recognize her. This is the giant-strong girl you've known, but not as you've known her, and the reason for the difference in atmosphere is obvious. Never have you seen her look so worn down, and for once, the blood is probably all hers. From foot to neck she is covered in gashes deep enough to leave you wondering how she survived, and more of that dirtied red is smeared over her face and into her hair. Even so, she grins when she spots you.

“Lost a couple toes, but I kept 'em safe. Tried cleaning 'em in the sake but kept getting messy.” Suika holds up a blood-drenched palm, her other hand clutching her side.

She really is inhuman.

Outside, you can hear Mokou shouting to her army to close in.

[ ] Heal Suika...
--[ ] ...enough to prevent any permanent damage.
--[ ] ...enough to keep her in the fight.
--[ ] ...enough to return her to good condition.

[ ] Wait for...
--[ ] ...Mokou's men to gather.
--[ ] ...Patchouli.
[ ] There is no time. Advance while the chance remains.
--[ ] Call Mokou in with you.
--[ ] Rush Suika's healing. (Only if choosing “keep her in the fight” or “good condition.”)
>> No. 24573
[x] Heal Suika...
--[x] ...enough to keep her in the fight.

[x] Wait for...
--[x] ...Patchouli.

If we have enough time,
[x] Heal Suika...
--[x] ...enough to return her to good condition.

I'm assuming that healing her to keep her in the fight goes above and beyond fixing permanent damage, but if not, then switch to that. Recover/regroup, and then press on.
>> No. 24579
[x] >>24573

Sounds good to me.
>> No. 24606
[x] >>24573

Works for me too.
>> No. 24608
[x] Heal Suika...
--[x] ...enough to keep her in the fight.

[x] Wait for...
--[x] ...Patchouli.

I love this story~
>> No. 24619
[x] >>24573

Sho'.
>> No. 24629
>>24573
This.
>> No. 24634
[x] >>24573
>> No. 24635
File 126462730929.jpg - (453.75KB , 2002x3021 , 55b6379620eb365a8e2bd386d42f15a3 b.jpg ) [iqdb]
24635
Suika takes a step toward you, her foot sliding on the wet, darkened floor. You're at her side in half a moment, holding her steady with one arm. She leans onto your arm as you move steadily through the steps of activating your healing spell. Momizi is no longer in your field of vision, but you can hear her say something about keeping a watch on the lower passage. Footsteps enter in behind you.

“Come to think of it, you're pretty useful at times like this.” Suika coughs, liquid running from the corner of her mouth.

“This one went straight through your lung. Don't try to talk right now. I'll have you ready to get back into the fight by the time Patchouli catches up with us.” First, to slow the bleeding, then sealing the internal, the external, reattaching severed digits... she may be able to regenerate that lost bit of ear entirely, but later...

She shakes her head, but doesn't say anything more. And a short time later, you're close enough to done for her to relate what had happened.

“Saw 'em closing the door, and figured I needed to get in before anything else. Had to take a few blows on the way, is all. Left the guard bugs outside—most of 'em—they were too wide to get through the door after it was nearly closed, and didn't seem of a mind to pull it open.”

“They might've been ordered not to.”

You glance over your shoulder to see Mokou, eyes focused toward the bottom of the ramp, standing by Momizi. She doesn't continue, so you return to Suika's healing. It might take all you have to return her to peak condition, so you won't. As long as she can move without hurting herself, she can fight, and you're already drained as it is. Best to keep a reserve of power at the ready.

The first of the fur-clad hunters arrive, taking positions near Mokou in the increasingly crowded room. The next batch clears a wide aisle for Patchouli to walk through. Probably—yes, you can see the fear on the faces of those less adept, or caring at hiding it. Even though she had worked her magic to their benefit, you can understand this reaction. Her last spell had worked beautifully. At dozens of disparate locations throughout the forest, quickly grown plants had lashed down the homunculi, changing pitched fights to a matter of cleaning up the remainder. And she doesn't even look particularly tired. If you didn't know her, you'd say she even look bored—but you do know her, so the signs are apparent. She's still tired, and hurrying to catch up couldn't have helped.

“All ready?” Mokou asks.

“Yes,” you answer, standing.

“Then let's spring the next one.”

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

It's far too narrow. You've got an army behind you, but only three can walk abreast without getting each in the other's way. Mokou's taken the fore, with Momizi on one side and Suika on the other. You and Patchouli walk in the third rank—And then it hits you. You're attacking an underground fortress belonging to a magic-user. There's no end of impassible traps you could run into. All it would take is one collapsed tunnel to render your entire force useless, if not dead. Really, it's a wonder you made it in at all. Looking at Suika's back, blood still clotted in her hair, you cut off that line of thought. You're here now, which is proof enough that the defenders hadn't been quick enough, or thought far enough ahead.

There's light ahead, brighter than the torches around you. You come to a widened area, though still seeming to be part of the tunnel, as there is only one other exit, at the opposite end. Standing there are three figures of different heights, all wearing long, hooded cloaks. The tallest carries a strung bow, the shortest has the unmistakable bulge of a sheathed sword at the left side of the waist raising the back of the cloak, and the third figure shows no sign of armament.

It's the bowman that speaks, revealing by her lowered hood a braided and gray-haired woman with an otherwise unlined face. It's almost beautiful, but cold. In comparison, Mokou seems like she might begin to burn at just the sight of her.

[ ] Wait.

[ ] Don't wait.
>> No. 24636
[x] Wait.

I think we should cool down and make a quick plan before doing something hasty, but that's just me.
>> No. 24637
[x] Don't wait.

Inaction is gonna kill us.
>> No. 24640
[x] Wait.

Quickly take in the area around us before engaging them in battle.
>> No. 24641
[x] Wait.

Whatchoo want, Eirin?
>> No. 24642
File 126464357343.jpg - (166.83KB , 900x675 , 4e79960e0286119aa2a2fc701014c57f.jpg ) [iqdb]
24642
You wait. Taking quick stock of the area, you figure that five people could comfortably fight down its length. This brings to question why you're faced with three. That the one figure seems to be unarmed can only be suspicious. Certainly, they can't be thinking of surrender when the other two are carrying weapons. As you take this in, the tall one is already talking.

“Greetings, Fujiwara. And to your companions. I am, as always, Eirin Yagokoro.” She bows gracefully.

“Bitch, don't stand in my way!” Mokou steps forward.

“Stop!”

She does, as does everyone around her. The woman—Eirin—is now holding one hand out, palm flat. The swordsman is crouched, hand on hilt. The other hooded figure has moved a short distance from the other two, toward one corner of the widened area.

“That's just the way it has to be.” Mokou pronounces with regained calm.

“You're still following your useless vengeance?”

“I'll decide whether it's useless. By my own power.”

“But it is. You seek to destroy for no reason than your own disquiet. Nothing will come of either success or failure.”

“'No reason'?! You know full well what you and your princess did!” Mokou spits.

“You blame your clan's humiliation on her, but it was your father's own greed that led to it.”

“That's nonsense—”

“He gambled, reached above his station, and lost. The outcome is what he expected of such a loss.”

“Since when is it a sin to have ambition? And don't speak as if you knew his mind!”

“He was an easy man to understand. And he would never ask you, of all people, to avenge him—nor ask anything of you. Even you know this, because...”

“Don't speak—”

“...after all, you are the reason for his shame.”

“—one—”

The air glows.

“He could not accept, nor would ever be allowed, a possessed, bastard girl-child as his heir.”

“—more word!

The fire comes to life in the air before her, firing forward at an arrow's speed, leaving flickering, sparking trails in the air. A dozen javelins of flame race toward Eirin, but not a single one reaches her. Each fiery arc bends around her, past her face, shoulders, or either side of her body. The heat flutters her hair and cloak, the rest of her showing no movement or surprise. Mokou just stands there, then lets her arms down.

“A question, alchemist.”

“Of course. What is it?”

“Why bring this up again now? I have more than enough fire to waste, if that was your goal.”

“Oh, it wasn't for your benefit. It's best to make decisions after understanding all sides of a situation. This was all for the benefit of your companions, who have no reason to share your madness.”

Eirin seems to look straight at you.

“Or are you here to plunder my work for gold? Was I wrong?”

Patchouli, drawing closer to you, says in a low tone, “I am uncertain...”

You see Suika shrug, glancing back with a look that says she just doesn't care.

Mokou, as if suddenly realizing the aim of Eirin's words, spins about to glare in your direction. Momizi shifts subtly so as to cover her as well as the room's far end.

Eirin continues, “If I wasn't, I'm willing to overlook these attacks in exchange for your help, if you please.”

[ ] ________________
>> No. 24643
File 126464396327.jpg - (95.91KB , 612x700 , eirin.jpg ) [iqdb]
24643
>>24637
Not this time. Yet.

Though if anyone was wondering, the last battle could have gone better.
>> No. 24644
[x] Explain that you went along mainly for the quest and you felt Mokou's cause was just.
[x] But you'd be willing to listen as a way to perhaps mediate things.
[x] Remark on how no matter the parent's sins, their children cannot help but to love them.
>> No. 24645
[x] Explain that you went along mainly for the quest and you felt Mokou's cause was just.
[x] But you'd be willing to listen as a way to perhaps mediate things.
[x] Remark on how no matter the parent's sins, their children cannot help but to love them.
>> No. 24651
[x] Explain that you went along mainly for the quest and you felt Mokou's cause was just.
[x] But you'd be willing to listen as a way to perhaps mediate things.
[x] Remark on how no matter the parent's sins, their children cannot help but to love them.
>> No. 24656
File 126470134557.jpg - (320.00KB , 650x520 , 552217-large.jpg ) [iqdb]
24656
You take a moment to sort out your thoughts.

“We came on behalf of the local village, to put a stop to the banditry. I felt Mokou's cause was just, and so here we are with her.”

“One way or another, I believe the village's problem will be solved today.” Eirin says.

“You've got that right. I'm not leaving without finishing this.” Mokou growls.

“I'm willing to listen,” you continue, thinking back to those peaceful days on at the monastery and wondering if you'll ever see them again, “if there's any chance for mediation. No matter a parent's sins, their children can't help but to love them.”

“All I wish is to be left alone to my work, without being hounded.” Eirin states dryly.

“And all I want is satisfaction. But if you weren't listening up to now, know this, monk. I won't take an apology that isn't written on her hide.” You can hear the conviction in Mokou's tone.

“So this can't be solved without violence?” you mutter. Typical. To be expected, really, but it's still giving you a headache.

With a spasm of pain, you see—something. A red-eyed face under golden hair—no, not that, after that! Long, black hair. Cracked tiles in the floor. What else? Your eyes refocus on the passage behind Eirin. You have to go.

“Brother Judas?” Patchouli's voice reaches you.

“Yes, I understand.”

[ ] Enough stalling—nothing is changed. Order the attack.
[ ] Escape to Eirin's side. Put an end to Mokou's vengeance.

[ ] Remain to see this fight's conclusion.
[ ] Follow the call at the first clear opportunity.
>> No. 24659
wait, was it Kaguya who was chained to the sink, or something?
>> No. 24675
[x] Feign fighting on Mokou's side long enough for Eirin and her companions to surrender. Once this happens, have Patchy incapacitate all of the men with Mokou and then have Suika and Momizi take care of her.
[x] Remain to see this fight's conclusion.

Assuming we can actually pull it off, I hope so too.
>> No. 24677
<Wiseguy> what does "Follow the call" mean?
<Cruentus> I have this habit of being cryptic.
<Cruentus> It's referring to this line...
<Wiseguy> that's not something good in terms of choices
<Cruentus> >Your eyes refocus on the passage behind Eirin. You have to go.
>> No. 24679
[x] Enough stalling—nothing is changed. Order the attack.
[x] Follow the call at the first clear opportunity.

I'd be careful with that write in, you never know what might happen, it is combat after all. I'd figure seeing what's behind Eirin is a bit more important than the battle itself, and we picked a side for better or worse.
>> No. 24688
[x] Enough stalling—nothing is changed. Order the attack.
[x] Follow the call at the first clear opportunity.
>> No. 24694
[x] Enough stalling—nothing is changed. Order the attack.
[x] Follow the call at the first clear opportunity.

>>24679
Oh, I know, but on the other hand, if Crue wanted us dead, that tunnel would have collapsed while we were walking through it or something though we probably could have managed to take care of it with the help of Patchy, but the magic expended doing so would more than likely render her incapable of being any help for the remainder of the fight.
>> No. 24702
File 12648237344.jpg - (1.12MB , 1500x2100 , 97467894bd4bf5ac7a86dce2a33eb13b.jpg ) [iqdb]
24702
A moment of silence lets your voice carry easily. You have to get by. And the quickest way is through. There's no time nor opportunity to explain it to anyone ahead of time. So, first...

“Attack.” With the smallest hand gesture, you demonstrate your position, clearly and concisely.

“Tch,”

“Knew I could count on you, kid. Get 'em!”

You hold up your staff defensively as the room erupts into violence. Patchouli takes a few uncertain steps back as Momizi interposes herself between both of you and the advancing enemies. Everyone else is charging, following Mokou to swarm the three lone defenders as best the passage allows them. Suika aims for the swordsman, swinging a chain in an immobilizing arc, but her target disappears as your vision starts to swim. What is this? Smoke? There's an odd haze in the air, but no smell nor feeling of heat. You try to get the enemy back into your sights. There's Eirin, firing an arrow that's blown back by the force of Mokou's explosive talent. There's the unarmed, still hooded enemy, doing something with his hands. Oh, no... That's a mage, isn't it? But where are the arcane patterns, the glowing circles?

Screams draw your attention to the other side of the hall, in time to see the enemy swordsman, hood thrown back. A fine-featured child with hair the color of Eirin's stops for just a moment, holding a long, thin sword. Then she disappears in an insane burst of motion punctuated by flying streams of blood, limbs, and cries of pain. And she's getting closer. Momizi advances slightly, readying to intercept her. Suika turned to follow her, but seems to have lost her in the crowd. An army really isn't doing much good here, and it'll only be worse for them when panic sets in. Not that they could be blamed for panicking. A crowd of trappers versus an alchemist, a mage, and a sword-demon?

[ ] Request [companion] to take care of [target].
[ ] Melee [target].
[ ] Cast [spell] on [target].
[ ] Flee [direction].
>> No. 24715
[x] Have Patchy focus on the mage through use of counter-spells primarily, and offensive magic when the opportunity allows for it.
[x] Tell Suika to assist Patchy in bringing down the mage before focusing on the sword-demon. You've never met a caster who was fond of taking a powerful fist to their body after all.
[x] Send Momizi after the sword-demon, but not before casting spells to boost her speed as best you can to counter-act the speed of the demon.
[x] Cast some defensive spells on yourself and then make your way to the door once you can establish that your team has things at least under control against the enemy forces.

The troops are cannon fodder at best, and Mokou can (hopefully) keep Eirin busy enough that we don't have to focus on her at all.
>> No. 24733
[x] >>24715

>>24727
>We can't just ignore Eirin
Mokou should be on her case. We have more pressing matters to deal with, such as her henchmen.
>> No. 24735
File 126489960458.jpg - (432.38KB , 847x600 , 14fc8ea06047f4343e85e92e4e782cde.jpg ) [iqdb]
24735
Please refer to >>11641 for information on what spells you have practiced. If you are set on improvisation, it is certainly possible, but be sure to keep your intent simple.
>> No. 24739
>>24735
Bad cleric is bad~
Improv is easy enough though. A spell to increase speed isn't that hard to come up with.
>> No. 24744
>>24739
he's a monk, and perhaps as a result, he doesn't know as many buffing spells as a cleric.
>> No. 24747
[x] Have Patchy focus on the mage through use of counter-spells primarily, and offensive magic when the opportunity allows for it.
[x] Tell Suika to assist Patchy in bringing down the mage before focusing on the sword-demon. You've never met a caster who was fond of taking a powerful fist to their body after all.
[x] Send Momizi after the sword-demon, but not before casting spells to boost her speed as best you can to counter-act the speed of the demon.
[x] Cast some defensive spells on yourself and then make your way to the door once you can establish that your team has things at least under control against the enemy forces.
>> No. 24780
More than two votes on something would be nice, as would a single, clear victor.

>>24744
This is more or less correct.

It's also true that buffing magic isn't that common. This is partly because living bodies are complex, and a failed experiment on a friend is worse than the same on an enemy. Healing works by being a lot more subtle.
>> No. 24786
[X] Patchouli: slow or immobilize the sword-demon.
[X] Suika: beat down the mage.
[X] Momizi: guard us and Patchouli.
[X] Heal Momizi when needed, switch to attacking the sword-demon with Flash of Light when Patchouli's slowed her down.

Suika can handle one mage on her own. The enemy we can't hit is the bigger problem.
>> No. 24793
[X] Patchouli: slow or immobilize the sword-demon.
[X] Suika: beat down the mage.
[X] Momizi: guard us and Patchouli.
[X] Heal Momizi when needed, switch to attacking the sword-demon with Flash of Light when Patchouli's slowed her down.
>> No. 24811
File 126542884337.jpg - (677.36KB , 1387x1000 , dda5deca2f7350894c531bc1bb7a0de7.jpg ) [iqdb]
24811
“Suika, ignore that one, get the mage!” You shout as best you're able over the din, putting a hand to Patchouli's shoulder and pointing. “Take down that one, don't let them get their magic off!”

“It may be too late—” she stops talking and starts working, but you've already turned to Momizi and started your own casting.

Eirin's swordsman is just too fast. Where did she even find someone like that? Is this more magic? You may not be able to hit her, but you can do something to meet her... can't you? The divine energy you convey in healing, it can be used to strengthen—maybe. You haven't really had a chance to try this before, but you can't think of any reason it should fail. God willing—that's how miracles work.

Faster, faster! Momizi stands very still, aware that you're doing something, but obviously unsure what. “She's almost upon us, brother.” she hisses.

It's difficult. Once you have it ready, you hold onto that familiar feeling, working out quickly how to evenly disperse the energy as it's needed. And Momizi can't move until you do—it's too much for you to attempt this at range. This still isn't enough, it isn't enough just to raise her to such a state of health she glows with vitality (an effort that is already draining), what you need is more—the swiftness of an angel. A guardian angel, an avenging angel—

A flash of insight. A symbol you've never seen before appears in your mind, and you grab onto it instinctually, forcing it into your spell. Concentric circles glow into golden existence about your hands, the necessary words already flowing from your lips, ancient characters filling the space between the circles as you speak them. Your spell transforms as if taking on a life of its own as it drains yet more of your reserves. The thought comes distantly that this could be bad.

“Brother?” A querying tone. You can't answer, because there's an explosion right by your head. Two swords are locked there—a light blade striking a heavy blade, forcing it toward you—but only for a moment.

You scramble back, seeing the gray-haired swordsman leap back to the awaiting bandits, cut one down without looking at him (even were it not a result of the teachings by which you'd been raised, you'd feel sorry for those poor saps by this point), and leap impossibly high and forward again, sword trailing behind her. She's heading directly toward you, but Momizi intercepts her mid-air. The thin sword strikes out to the side, and Momizi takes it between her own sword and shield, knocking her from the air. Though the injured have been crawling away, more heedless men arrive to join the battle, and so the two fall into waiting arms.

So far, so good, right? You look to what's become of the others.

Patchouli attempted to bring a hail of ice against the enemy. Not a blizzard, but a volley of spears of ice. She followed up with stone shards drawn out of the ceiling, and as you watch, bursts into existence a column of flame. But it appears in the wrong area, the enemy mage simply stepping away from it. While Patchouli gasps for breath, gritting her teeth in frustration, nothing has so much as scratched—

Suika finally arrives, swinging her chain with reckless abandon. The mage jumps away, and her hood falls down to reveal long hair tucked into her cloak, along with two strips of stiff cloth attached to the top of her head. The hair is, against all reason, the color of spring violets. A follow up attack rips through cloak but not flesh, as the mage continues to try, in vain, to gain distance, unable to continue her casting.

A “No!” in Eirin's voice tells you enough in that regard. Was the mage actively protecting Eirin, perhaps? In any case, there's the sound of definite impact as Mokou strikes Eirin, both of them still standing, but the superior close quarters combatant is obvious.

By the time you take this in, you find that you've already crossed to the far end of the room. As soon as your thoughts drifted, your feet took you here. There's something you have to do. You run.

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

While hardly a palace fit for a princess, this place is remarkable as a laboratory. Half-familiar designs cover the walls with diagrams showing the relationships of materials and concepts. Some designs are familiar, and you realize with a start that arcane and religious charts are cluttered among the herbal and natural. You can't even begin to guess what mixtures rest in the various glass, stone, and clay devices, but the more solid products are more easily understood. Here is a nightingale's wing, there the eyes of a snake carved in thin metal, and here again is a beating heart floating in a dim, green solution.

Wait. That's impossible. Sure enough, it's not beating—that was just a trick of the light coming through the glass as you walked by. But it does look like a heart. Human or deer or dog, you can't tell. Even with all the blood you've seen over the years, you've yet to see someone rip out a whole heart for your inspection, so can go only by what you saw in a book Patchouli brought you. More familiar forms are held elsewhere, including what must be a stomach and a pair of kidneys. Their appropriateness to human size is discomforting in ways you'd rather not think about it.

And... there are too many doors. You found your way here, but there are just too many rooms in this place. More than the three you saw plus the princess must be living here. Well, obviously there should be the princess's servants, but you've yet to find direct evidence, let alone see one. Was there an escape passage that they've all taken to? If so, to where? They couldn't have felt safe about going up to the forest, where any trap could await them. A passage that goes all the way through the mountains would solve that problem, but such a construction would be even more fanciful than what you've seen of this fortress so far. And what you've seen is amazing. Apart from the laboratory area, there is a lot of wealth here, in the form of art and sculpture. Someone must have had profound respect for ancient scholars.

Finally, a locked door. Something tells you that this is a good sign, like someone cheering you on. Go ahead, break it down. Just grab that stone bust, and strike the door with his bald, bearded head. Again. Again.

You do. The lock breaks. The bolt snaps. The door opens. You step inside.

Have you been traveling upward? There's an opening in the ceiling above you, in the room at the end of the passage behind the locked door. Through its slits, you can see moonlight—and that's the only illumination in this room. Though everywhere you've been up to now has been well lit, this room—only this room—is shrouded. You can see a circle of light wide enough to walk on, but the center, the walls, and the ceiling are in darkness.

There's a dry laugh from within that circle. Dry, pained laughter that cuts off with a cough. A woman's voice, that feels yet more familiar as the pieces fall into place in your mind. It still doesn't make sense.

“Come here.”

[ ] …
[ ] Yes.
[ ] What are you doing here? Get back to the fight.
>> No. 24812
[x] Yes.
-[x] "Don't worry I'm here to rescue you"
>> No. 24813
[x] Yes.
-[x] "Don't worry I'm here to rescue you"

The woman from our dreams way, way back?
>> No. 24814
New spell learned.

Updated spell list:
Divine Healing (moderate health recovery, moderate cost)
Flash of Light (low lightning damage, improved critical, low cost)
Binding Circle (immobilizes, high defense bonus, high cost)
Angel's Swiftness (agility/reaction boost, temporary, very high cost)
>> No. 24815
Well, we're pretty much tapped out then... At least we have a fun spell to try on Suika at some point.
>> No. 24822
>>24813

I do believe so, though this is a surprise considering how things are between Eirin and Kaguya canonically. This 'kidnapping' is more of a rescue than anything at this rate.
>> No. 24829
[X] …

There's a circle of light, but we can't see the woman in it? And what's with that command? Something's not right here.
>> No. 24834
[ ] …

It's possible that Kaguya is being commanding because she only knows how to order, not how to ask, but... I'm not quite willing to blindly believe that's the case just yet. That, or it's a trap they set up, for some reason. Why would they want a holy man, though?

>>24813
"Aren't you a little short for a priest?"
>> No. 24841
>>24834
I don't think they really saw us coming at all, and I get the feeling that Eirin was using Kaguya's immortal body as an infinite organ bank.
>> No. 24900
[x] Yes.
-[x] "Don't worry I'm here to rescue you"
>> No. 24947
File 126584740826.png - (1.01MB , 1200x1200 , 8b9451eef5dad23fc74480d226295bd6.png ) [iqdb]
24947
You step forward. “Don't worry, I'm here—”

And fall to your knees in agony, doubling over in the light. Tiny runes are etched into the dust of the floor. A warding circle? And it activated after you stepped into it, meaning either that it was designed to kill an intruder instead of keeping him out, or it was meant to—it would be easier to think without the blinding pain. Your hands move, grasping for something, anything to pull yourself out by, but you find nothing but dust. You can hear someone screaming, who may or may not be you. Someone else is apologizing, over and over again, her words punctuated with sobbing. It's hard to make out anything, as the ward invades each of your senses in turn, delivering its loaded punishment with the same uncaring ruthlessness as a storm or an earthquake. You could almost believe that it was divine judgment, but for what?

Was it my destiny to fall here?

No.

Then why am I here?

Get up.

I can't do anything anymore.

Get up. Get up. Get up. Get up. Get up. Get up. “Get up! Get up! Get up, they're coming!”

You're on your back, just outside the circle. You can't remember how you made it here. The sensations of torture are slowly ebbing, your sight and hearing returning. You get up, picking up your staff from where it fell, part of it in the light. It probably doesn't affect the inanimate, only people. People—that woman. You look into the center of the circle, but your eyes are swimming.

“You—” you start, and stop. Who's coming?

A rush of air, and a form appears in front of you that glows with a faint, blue light. It's not the form of a person. There is a person here, but they are, like you, entirely within the room's darkness, and your eyes refuse to focus just yet. Rather, the glow is a coiling serpent, showing the at least vaguely humanoid form by what is obscured.

“Do not hate me for this.” Her voice is hard and cold, belying the impression of youthfulness. The swordsman, is it? You still can't see well enough, but she's the right height. A score of questions flit through your mind, not the least among them being concerns over where your companions are, and whether they still live. Did she escape, or did she follow you triumphantly? A noise now reaches you, vaguely, of a commotion far away. There may still be a fight going on. Did it run all the way down the passage, and into the fortress?

But all that comes out of your mouth is, “Why?”

“My goals require my continued subservience at this point. My current patron has ordered the death of any who make contact with this person. That is all.”

There's no visible sign, just a soft rush of wind, and you feel your chest warming. A piece of wood falls to the floor. You touch the growing warmth, letting the rest of your quarterstaff fall to the ground, and your hand is quickly covered in the thick fluid. You can't even feel—

“Rest in peace.”


B A D
E N D
>> No. 24948
[ ] Go back one choice.
[ ] Go back two choices.
[ ] Don't.
>> No. 24950
[x] Go back three choices.

No way in hell we can take on the swordsman ourself. There are also implications from her presence that I'd rather not face if we were to simply just back up one or two choices, though Youmu might have indeed dashed in here to stop us but in the event some of our allies were injured, it's our fault for not being there.

As such, it would be best to go back to where this mess started by deciding to head down there, and clean up the mess here first. Kaguya will still be tied up there after we trash our enemies.

[x] Enough stalling—nothing is changed. Order the attack.
[x] Remain to see this fight's conclusion.
>> No. 24957
>>24950

Two choices back was the secondary battle plan where we made that speed boost spell.

[x] Enough stalling—nothing is changed. Order the attack.
[x] Remain to see this fight's conclusion.

Still a bit of change might be good to catch them by surprise.
>> No. 24967
>>24957
Oh I know. That's why I put forth my vote to go back three. I was against going down there from the start anyways.
>> No. 24968
Anonymous, you never took Dungeoneering 101, did you?
-Avoid breaking up the group unless there is no choice.
-Glowing circles on the ground are wards at best, and traps at worst.

[X] Go back three choices.
[X] Enough stalling—nothing is changed. Order the attack.
[X] Remain to see this fight's conclusion.

-If you see a duck on the ground, DO NOT pick it up.
>> No. 24976
File 126590892193.png - (231.39KB , 500x500 , 4c415f4a48e456a811dbca553a33dc03.png ) [iqdb]
24976
That wasn't listed, but okay.

[ ] Retain battle plan.
[ ] Revise battle plan.
>> No. 24978
>>24976
You didn't oppose it over AIM so I went with it~

[x] Revise battle plan.

Change to:
[x] Patchouli: Initially serve as a distraction for the mage, but nothing too fancy or draining. After that, have her slow or immobilize the sword-demon.
[x] Suika: Beat down the mage.
[x] Momizi: Guard us and Patchouli.
[x] Buff Momizi again, focus on healing your allies if they sustain any immediate injuries and then switch to attacking the sword-demon with Flash of Light when Patchouli's slowed her down.

The speed boost wasn't enough for Momizi to keep Youmu occupied, but it probably wasn't a complete waste of mana. Given what did occur, having Mokou stick with Eirin and Suika with the mage worked out just fine.
>> No. 24980
[X] Revise battle plan.

Patchouli wasn't able to do much against the mage, and if Judas casts Angel's Swiftness, he's going to be useless for the rest of the fight.

[X] Patchouli: slow or immobilize the sword-demon.
[X] Suika: beat down the mage.
[X] Momizi: guard us and Patchouli.
[X] Heal Momizi when needed, switch to attacking the sword-demon with Flash of Light when Patchouli's slowed her down.
>> No. 24981
>>24980
Yeah, I know. Just wanted to prevent the possibility of the mage being able to do something to counter Suika since she had Patchy acting as a distraction the first time, hence it being nothing too fancy or draining, unlike the first time which left her tired.
>> No. 24988
[x] Revise battle plan.

Change to:
[x] Patchouli: Initially serve as a distraction for the mage, but nothing too fancy or draining. After that, have her slow or immobilize the sword-demon.
[x] Suika: Beat down the mage.
[x] Momizi: Guard us and Patchouli.
[x] Heal Momizi when needed, switch to attacking the sword-demon with Flash of Light when Patchouli's slowed her down.
>> No. 25006
[x] Revise battle plan.

Change to:
[x] Patchouli: Initially serve as a distraction for the mage, but nothing too fancy or draining. After that, have her slow or immobilize the sword-demon.
[x] Suika: Beat down the mage.
[x] Momizi: Guard us and Patchouli.
[x] Heal Momizi when needed, switch to attacking the sword-demon with Flash of Light when Patchouli's slowed her down.
>> No. 25041
[x] Revise battle plan.

Change to:
[x] Patchouli: Initially serve as a distraction for the mage, but nothing too fancy or draining. After that, have her slow or immobilize the sword-demon.
[x] Suika: Beat down the mage.
[x] Momizi: Guard us and Patchouli.
[x] Heal Momizi when needed, switch to attacking the sword-demon with Flash of Light when Patchouli's slowed her down.

Sounds dandy. I hope.
>> No. 25404
File 126679941386.jpg - (375.59KB , 1200x751 , 1177863479543.jpg ) [iqdb]
25404
A sound not unlike crinkling tape. Wait, what?

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

Her size is an advantage here. She didn't look like she had the strength to make such movements, but appearances are deceiving—you learned that so long ago that's it's surprising to see that you can still be deceived. Swords swing and spears jab, but the little swordsman avoids each blow, moving around, over and under even as she trades parrying blows with Momizi. The strikes blur through the air, Momizi's heavier sword being obviously slower, but her opponent is left unable to capitalize on that weakness. Even as you keep yourself alert to the first sign that your healing is needed or your attack has an opening, you can't help but be drawn in by the sight of battle.

It's with a sinking feeling that you're forced to admit, as good as Suika is (and better than Momizi, both in strength and tactics), there'd be little the oni could do against this opponent. She handles that longsword as if it were a dagger, striking in rapid succession from different angles around Momizi's shield, all without leaving a single opening you can find. Momizi's blade moves minimally from side to side in an upright guard, her body alternating with it to keep each side-blow from reaching her, until she raises her hands to block a downward blow and carries through to sweep the lighter sword away, kicking with one leg as she does. Her foot quickly retracts as her opponent's sword recovers and swipes low, then blocks Momizi's own blow from the side in a lowered-point stance, the girl's left hand pressing against the back of her own sword as she's visibly pushed by the attacking momentum.

The enemy leaps, and Momizi follows, barely sparing the time for such caution as to avoid rushing into a trap by landing after or beyond her target. Their weapons clash and slide, sparking, and the smaller girl leaps again to avoid the next swing—straight up. She comes down in a spin that slides across Momizi's shield and rebounds her away from a descending counterattack, rolling across the ground and into the legs of several bandits. These are luckier than many others, at least one bloodying her before she wounds him and jumps to her feet parry Momizi's charging slash. They resume, up until the floor shifts beneath their feet. They make as if to leap to avoid it, but pushing against the rippling floor is like trying to jump from quicksand, offering no purchase. Momizi struggles to back away, along with the others trapped too close, and you hear a gasp from behind you,

“Now, brother Judas!”

Perfect, Patchouli. Now to take advantage of this before she can free herself. You were holding yourself in readiness, though you weren't sure what you'd need to cast, so it takes a moment. A precious, precious moment, as the little swordsman frees her trailing leg just as you lash out with one hand, your gesture directing the built-up energies you called upon to strike. It's hard to tell if it hits her more like a hammer or a fireball, but either way, she cries out and collapses face-first into the slightly softened ground.

Across the room, you can see this having an effect. Suika is finally able to strike the mage in a moment of distraction, throwing back her hood, and though you still can't tell what kind of support she was giving, it's in the next moment that Eirin shouts and Mokou strikes her solidly. You advance, trying to get close enough to see the enemy leader's face through the obscuring smoke surrounding her section of the field. When you get close enough, you see Mokou bloody her knuckles against the alchemist's head, kick her in the gut to double her over, then quick-step to knock her flat and to the side with a knee to her face. Shouting in triumph, she raises both fists, flames gathering and swirling over her head for the final blow. Eirin turns her face up, and mouths a plea of mercy with wide-eyed fear.

[ ] Finish her.

[ ] Intervene. And quickly.
>> No. 25407
[x] Intervene. And quickly.

She owes us some explanations~
>> No. 25408
[x] Intervene. And quickly.

We need to find out what's going on and what kind of traps might be about before saving Kaguya.
>> No. 25423
[X] Intervene. And quickly.
>> No. 25429
File 126685271975.jpg - (611.93KB , 1600x1200 , 992a5db00dd7452048e3acc9b221fdcd.jpg ) [iqdb]
25429
Several visions flit quickly through your mind. Standing by as Eirin is turned to ash, nothing recognizable left of her form. Rushing to stand in the way, and taking that fate on yourself. Shouting, and being ignored. Grabbing or tackling Mokou, and having the magic fling off to hit elsewhere. (Patchouli seems particularly flammable at this moment, for whatever reason.)

“Stop!”

You take a fourth option, and tackle Eirin. It's not easy to grab someone who's already almost laying on the ground, but all you need to do is get her outside Mokou's immediate field of vision, and you manage this by rolling the both of you five feet away.

“Eh?” Mokou sounds too dumbfounded to react further, holding her magic steady by either instinct or experience.

You didn't have time to think past this point, so it takes you nearly as long to think of something intelligent to say as Mokou.

“We can't—”

“Master!”

The cry comes from across the room. You see Suika in that direction, and she turns around to look at the mage rising up and running toward you both with two long, stiff cloth strips of red and white trailing from the top of her head. It was her that shouted. The alchemist's apprentice?

“Didn't I knock you out yet? I must be getting too soft.” Suika grumbles loudly enough for you to hear her.

She starts to swing her chain overhead, ready to strike the mage should she try to run by, and advance to strike if she doesn't. Her chain tangles around a sword thrust from above as the swordsman appears over her, and she rolls aside, picking it up again a few feet further down its length. Momizi is almost there, just a few feet out of reach, and Suika is taking hold of the chain to drag down her opponent's weapon, but both of them are just slightly too slow. In an instant, the sword is drawn out from the still-loose chain, and its wielder spins it and herself in a full, circular arc that opens Suika from hip to shoulder. Suika falls, Momizi's sword flashes, and the enemy turns in time to take the blow through half the width of her left arm before fleeing.

Eirin has already escaped your grasp, you realize as you feel her hand on your cheek. She gives you a smile that is... surprisingly gentle. Then she's running to the passage further into the fortress, along with her two underlings. Wondering if it would perhaps be alright to let rage take over for a moment, you lunge forward, but are forced back when red and blue flames cover the area up to twenty feet in front of you, completely covering their escape. Before you can make sense of this new magic, you feel Patchouli tug at your hand.

“The enemy is an illusionist, and one of great subtlety—far more than this spell to cover their escape signifies.” With a wave from her other hand, the fire vanishes. “Her lieutenant's work, in all likelihood. Following into such a trap as they may lay would be utterly foolish. Tend to the wounded, and let me think of a solution.”

Her calm seems to spread from her hand to yours, as if bringing the situation back under control—just before Mokou's enraged shouting and murderous glare would push you over the edge. There are wounded about, and you still have some power left. Not a great deal, but you could probably still pull off one, impressive miracle if you tried... but under no circumstances can you bring back the dead, and with a sinking heart, you realize that there are more than a few here who can no longer be helped.

[ ] Stabilize Suika.
--[ ] Heal Suika.
[ ] Check Momizi for damage and aftereffects.
[ ] See if you can help Patchouli.
[ ] Placate Mokou... somehow.
[ ] Check the men for...
--[ ] ...those that need a boost to fight.
--[ ] ...those in critical condition.
>> No. 25430
Damn. I thought it was odd that Youmu went down after one Flash of Light, and now the party's even worse off.

[X] Stabilize Suika.
-[X] If you have any power left, check the men for those in critical condition.
--[X] Time is of the essence, is there a way to heal several people at once?
[X] Placate Mokou... somehow.

Judas really isn't prepared for keeping an army going, so he should try to come up with some sort of "mass heal". This'll probably drain all of his power. If only there was a place where he could rest and recover...
>> No. 25436
[X] Stabilize Suika.
-[X] If you have any power left, check the men for those in critical condition.
--[X] Time is of the essence, is there a way to heal several people at once?
[X] Placate Mokou... somehow.
[x] Check Momizi for damage and aftereffects; at least see if she's alright.
[x] See if you can help Patchouli.

Hopefully the last two won't require much power if any.
>> No. 25441
Well, shit.
>> No. 25448
[x] Stabilize Suika.
-[x] If you have any power left, check the men for those in critical condition.
--[x] Time is of the essence, is there a way to heal several people at once?
[x] Placate Mokou... somehow.
[x] Check Momizi for damage and aftereffects; at least see if she's alright.
[x] See if you can help Patchouli.

God damn. What is rule number one of fighting? Make sure your opponent is actually down for the count before looking away. Of course Mokou would have been in a bit of a jam had she actually attempted to attack considering what happened. Given the circumstances, we might have even saved her.
>> No. 25516
You push the distractions out of your mind, moving to Suika's side and checking her wound. The gash is bleeding profusely, but is thankfully shallow and far to one side. An inch deeper or to the left and it may have struck her heart, a wound you would have difficulty repairing in the best of circumstances. As it is, this is still enough to kill her—you can't quite be optimistic enough to think that she could survive without blood, and even if you enhance her healing, it probably won't be enough. Then again, stranger things have happened.

Your knife cuts apart the tattered, blood-encrusted remains of her shirt, and the clear liquid of her drinking gourd serves to clean the wound to the point of being able to see it clearly. A gentle flow of healing encourages the wound to close itself as you cut cleaner cloth to bind it. Momizi assures you that she didn't need her left sleeve, anyway. Your work is accomplished quickly. She won't be able to fight, but she'll live, assuming no one stops her.

You still have some power, and you're surrounded by the injured. There's no guarantee that what you have in mind will work. But you don't have time to try anything else.

[ ] Try for a miracle.
[ ] Be reasonable.
>> No. 25519
[x] Try for a miracle.

Time to go for broke!
>> No. 25521
[x] Try for a miracle.

And then we'll find Eirin has a potion lying around that restores us to full capacity and we proceed to kick ass.
>> No. 25522
[X] Try for a miracle.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
>> No. 25592
[x] Try for a miracle.

Can't think that anything less will fix this.
>> No. 25608
File 126724658495.jpg - (974.41KB , 2590x2896 , 58c8a95b66b2aa7270e1b72ce4b762b8.jpg ) [iqdb]
25608
You've never had to pray quite so earnestly before, but this is far from a sure thing, even with all the faith you can muster. Mercy, healing, and deliverance. The cries of the wounded fade into the background. Mokou must have given up on getting an explanation out of you for the moment. The others aren't in sight, yet—you feel Momizi's presence by you, then Suika's, given a certainty of their position as if you really were looking at them. Your eyes closed, you become aware of others—greedy men, poor men, desperate men, men willing to take on untold dangers in exchange for a promise of wealth and a place to sit and eat. Each one is held in your sight simultaneously, appearing as a distinct human, rather than a member of a crowd or an erstwhile enemy. Here you see an aged tracker, face raked by some bird of prey, laying on the ground where he fell after he lost his hand and part of his arm, separated from him in the last battle. There you see a young boy hidden by a scraggly beard, sitting in a state of shock with a bloody puncture wound, the broken remains of an arrow by it.

It's enough. Your request is granted, so far as you have the strength to accept the knowledge you're given. The spell's completion appears in your mind, and you follow it automatically. The last of your power flows out from your body—and the sensation of draining fails to cease, some reserve you didn't know of supplying the remainder. Before it ends, you taste blood.

You stagger, and feel a pair of small hands catch and steady you.

“Thank you, Momizi.”

You feel her nod more than see it.

“You okay?” Suika coughs.

“You woke up? Oh, good.”

“Yeah, but I'm feeling a little under. Th' bitch got me, huh. Got any more of that feel-good magic left in you?”

“I... don't think so.” You mumble, “Sorry.”

“Figures. It's been a long day.” She coughs again, and then falls quiet.

“Momizi, what about...” You hesitate, “Any injuries?”

“I'm fine, brother. The magic you used on me has worn off, but I think I'm in better condition than you.”

“Don't worry about me; I'll be alright in a minute.” You shake your head at her concern. Nothing feels particularly wrong, at least.

“Great to hear,” Mokou interrupts your moment, and you step back from Momizi, getting your balance back. “So care to explain just what the hell that was back there?”

“Capturing her is the only way to get through this place safely.” you say after a moment of thought. “We don't know what kind of traps we'll have to deal with, otherwise.”

“Which is exactly the situation we've got now.”

“...yes. This didn't go as planned.”

“You can say that again, kid.” She spits. “I'm of half a mind to hit you once for this, but you don't look like you could take it, and whatever you just did for my men is at least appreciated by them.”

She jerks her head in their direction, and you look. There aren't any fewer wounded, but there are far fewer dying, and a number of the wounded are working bandages and picking themselves up. There are also many fewer than when you arrived, or at least fewer than you remember from outside. Morale is not what it could be, most likely.

When Patchouli gives the go-ahead, you continue. Whatever she worked out to deal with what waits ahead, she doesn't feel the need to share, and you've got no energy left to help her.

As you suspected, many were unwilling to venture forward. Some volunteered, including a familiar-looking, one-handed old tracker, and Mokou browbeat several more. The rest she ordered to guard the rear, though you suspect that that order was given solely because she knew they'd be useless if forced ahead, and this only gives a chance that they'll continue to follow orders. As is, your party consists of a dozen members, Suika not among them, having opted to rest where she was until she felt like catching up. Arguing with her seemed pointless, and you do have to move before the alchemist finishes whatever she has planned next.

“Banditry is all a game until someone gets their head cut off.”

Surprisingly, it's Momizi that offers this gem of wisdom, observing those unwilling, rather than unable, to keep up. Patchouli seems amenable to sharing in the macabre humor of it. How depressingly gloomy.

Mokou isn't paying attention, and probably wouldn't have heard anyway. She's focused on covering the ground between her and her targets of obsession.

You're not feeling as badly off as before. In fact, you feel quite fit. That will have to do, since, magically, you're completely dry.

Maybe you can come up with a plan in the meantime.

[ ] _________________
[ ] Talk to...
--[ ] ...Mokou.
--[ ] ...Patchouli.
--[ ] ...Momizi.
--[ ] ..._______

New spell learned.

Updated spell list:
Divine Healing (moderate health recovery, moderate cost)
Flash of Light (low lightning damage, improved critical, low cost)
Binding Circle (immobilizes, high defense bonus, high cost)
Angel's Swiftness (agility/reaction boost, temporary, very high cost)
Mass Healing (moderate health recovery to all, very high cost)
>> No. 25610
If eroges have taught me anything about getting power back...

[x] Have sex with Patchy

Seriously though;
[x] Scout out the 8 bandits. See what they can all do.
[x] Check with Patchy, Momizi and Mokou to see where they think they stand in terms of ability to fight.
[x] See what Momizi and Patchy have to say about our opponents now that we've had a chance to fight them.

Gather info, and then formulate a plan.
>> No. 25627
[x] Scout out the 8 bandits. See what they can all do.
[x] Check with Patchy, Momizi and Mokou to see where they think they stand in terms of ability to fight.
[x] See what Momizi and Patchy have to say about our opponents now that we've had a chance to fight them.
>> No. 25635
[x] Inquire about the 8 bandits. See what they can all do.
[x] Check with Patchy, Momizi and Mokou to see where they think they stand in terms of ability to fight.
[x] See what Momizi and Patchy have to say about our opponents now that we've had a chance to fight them.

Scout out? We are not working in the fashion industry.
>> No. 25640
>>25635
I was thinking more in terms of a scouting report than anything else.
>> No. 25917
Lately, when I try to write, I think about all the work I have to do and the writing happens very little, if at all. I expect that this may be rectified by finishing the work.

My Spring Break is still a week away.
>> No. 28441
File 127778615429.jpg - (495.00KB , 749x1203 , 52c3c6174610d82409ac16a4230cbf14.jpg ) [iqdb]
28441
You take the time to properly introduce yourself to the men sticking with you (and Mokou).

"Kirga," one of them says, only half his face visible beneath his hood. He touches the ground, his hip-slung crossbow not quite brushing the floor, and raises his hand to his face. Curious, you wait for him to explain or to add anything.

"Tracker."

"Done a lot of work by nose, him," says a comparatively (and otherwise) jovial man wearing a dark iron cap. A heavy, double-headed axe rests across his shoulders, one of which sports the spotted head of a white panther in a perpetual, toothy grin. Much of the rest of the panther goes down his back, though one of its claws has been separated and hangs from his belt by a smaller hatchet.

"They call me Buldar, or sometimes worse. Looks like I showed up late to the last scrap, so sorry about that."

A pair of men clad in wolf skins shoulder their way forward. The one on the left holds his right arm up with his left, bandages covering the held arm. The other man speaks, his accent unplaceable.

"I'm Kashar, and my stubborn fool of a brother here is Lukak. We're from up north, same as Buldar there."

Lukak mutters something about dying together that strikes you as needlessly ominous, as well as, "I can use a short blade just fine with my left." There isn't much strength in his voice.

"An' 'm Corbin." The two are interrupted by a stocky man who seems to have the heaviest armor out of the group, linked chain hanging from his helmet and covering his arms. The blood dried over his left side tells you that it wasn't quite enough, but he pats the leather chest plate as he sees your eyes drawn to it, adding, "The sword-lass got me, but not well enough--wager she didn' 'spect there be mail here, too. And it's closed up clean; got you to thank for that. Won't slow me." He nods affirmatively and taps his spear butt against the ground.

The next two men stop their own, low conversation and look toward you. One clears his throat and says, "I'm Vyrah, a huntsman by trade, and former guildsman. Animals are my usual quarry, but you can count on my knife and bow for this."

The other, a similarly blond man in light cloth and leathers says, "Ronan, of the same profession."

The last is the one-handed man, the scars across his face not quite fading into the weathered skin. He says nothing, but gives you a nod. Buldar speaks for him, "That one never talks, not even a peep."

"S'pose we could call him 'one hand', now?" Ronan asks. The scarred man gives him an unreadable look, looks at his ruined stump, and shrugs. One Hand takes off his bow and throws it to Kashar, while Lukak pulls out a sheathe filled with flat knives and tosses it back, to be affixed opposite a shortsword. Buldar laughs at the silent exchange.

Matching names to faces to skills and weapons of preference seems to come easily, mental notes appearing in your mind almost as clearly as those you actually write. As soon as you can, you excuse yourself from the group and return to check on your less temporary companions--assuming everyone makes it through this. Which they will. Yes.

You already know how Suika's doing, so Patchouli's first. She's the first to speak.

"You seem... drained."

You nod. "I feel I am. And you?"

She shakes her head, "I do not foresee using the last of my reserves tonight--they are substantial, and I am careful. I will merely require similarly substantial rest afterward."

"That's good to hear."

"Yes, but..."

You wait.

"...the enemy's arsenal will be difficult to combat. There are no good counters for illusion spells--not without a highly skilled mentalist. They are experts in making their opponents waste their time and energy. We are fortunate that only the enemy's lackey is so skilled. She is not a true master, as I reflect on the last battle."

"...I see. In that case, what can we do?"

"While divining the nature of the deception is difficult, determining that a deception exists is less so. I will be able to provide warning before we land ourselves squarely in danger. But should that come to pass, without your healing..." she continues gravely, "are you certain you wish to continue?"

You nod. Leaving things here, unfinished... it doesn't sit right with you, for many reasons. This adventure must reach its conclusion.

"I see. I will stay with you, as always, brother Judas."

"Thank you, Patchouli."

She nods, and you make your way to Momizi's side, by the front of the group.

"Brother?" she asks.

"How are you holding up?"

"I already said, didn't I? I'm fine. All I've lost is a sleeve. You're in worse shape than I am."

"Ah, sorry, sorry. Just making sure. The enemy this time..." You search for the words.

"A tough one. It's alright; I know that much. But we'll win--we're still on the right side; I'm sure of it. And even without magic, after I caught her once, I can catch her again. The swordsman, I mean. I'm not sure about dealing with the other two, but I'll have to deal with that one, right?"

"...yeah, that's probably right."

"Not much left in the boss bitch," Mokou butts in, "but she's a tricky one. I've got a few cards left to play when I see her again, so no worries there, but--eh, magic never lets a fight be a sure thing. Your mage is still good to go, right?"

"Er, Patchouli? Yes, she just told me--"

"Good, good. Then we'll have this wrapped up in no time."

The passage continues on ahead of you, the end drawing closer with each step.

[ ] Plan: ______________
[ ] React
>> No. 28454
[x] Go ahead with Kirga to check for traps.
-[x] When the enemy is spotted have Mokou go after Eirin
--[x] Attack her illusionist subordinate with Patchouli. If we can, cast Flash of Light to attempt to keep the illusionist from doing anything.


Just the specialized stuff. Everyone else is free to react. Especially Momizi if Youmu is still around.

I don't know how I missed this updating yesterday.
>> No. 28493
File 127822237272.gif - (1.18MB , 388x272 , 1278216318299.gif ) [iqdb]
28493
Waiting for people to vote. Maybe Battler playing an air guitar will help.
>> No. 28506
[x] Go ahead with Kirga to check for traps.
-[x] When the enemy is spotted have Mokou go after Eirin
--[x] Attack her illusionist subordinate with Patchouli. If we can, cast Flash of Light to attempt to keep the illusionist from doing anything.
>> No. 28509
[x] Go ahead with Kirga to check for traps.
-[x] When the enemy is spotted have Mokou go after Eirin
--[x] Attack her illusionist subordinate with Patchouli. If we can, cast Flash of Light to attempt to keep the illusionist from doing anything.
>> No. 28525
[x] Go ahead with Kirga to check for traps.
-[x] When the enemy is spotted have Mokou go after Eirin
--[x] Attack her illusionist subordinate with Patchouli. If we can, cast Flash of Light to attempt to keep the illusionist from doing anything.

Welcome back! Good to see this finally updated.
>> No. 28600
[x] Go ahead with Kirga to check for traps.
-[x] When the enemy is spotted have Mokou go after Eirin
--[x] Attack her illusionist subordinate with Patchouli. If we can, cast Flash of Light to attempt to keep the illusionist from doing anything.
>> No. 28830
[x] Go ahead with Kirga to check for traps.
-[x] When the enemy is spotted have Mokou go after Eirin
--[x] Attack her illusionist subordinate with Patchouli. If we can, cast Flash of Light to attempt to keep the illusionist from doing anything.