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You are Noel Tiberius di Hazaran, queen of the realm with which you share your name and formerly the number seven warrior of the still-nameless Organization, and right now things in your northern neighbor Sakia seem pretty dire. The crown prince had his father murdered recently and threw his lot in with a technologically advanced invading force that landed on his northern shore, which is a scenario you’ve been quietly considering since learning that there was in fact an “outside world” that possesses far greater technologies than your corner of the world does.

You’ve seen evidence of it yourself – high-velocity cannons with explosive fused shells, steam engines powerful enough to propel iron-armored warships, and the like. So it stands to reason that similarly advanced land combat assets would exist, and honestly you have trouble blaming Crown Prince Edmund for deciding to appease such a force rather than fight. A traditional land battle might end in a one-sided slaughter, or else victory at an unbearable cost.

But that doesn’t mean you agree with him, and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re willing to overlook his clumsy attempt to kill you and several people you care about. Which brings you here, to this relatively small and unassuming monastery north of the lake town where you left Edmund suspended in a tree.

“I will only speak with the monks,” you declare to the uniformed guards who tried to stop you from entering the monastery through the delivery gate. “I have neither the time nor the desire to explain myself to those simply trying to insert themselves into business that does not concern them.”

“I think you’ll find that we’re very much concerned,” the guard insists curtly. “Our assignment here is to keep bandits and ruffians at bay. These monks have taken certain oaths you see, to do no violence.”

“And so you do violence for them.”

“Something like that,” the first guard’s partner smirks. “Now, are we going to have a problem here?”

“I think we’re already well past that,” you frown. “I think you know full well that you’re not here for the sake of these monks.”

“And so what if we do?” the first guard demands. “Who are you to say what I do and don’t know?”

>I have some pull with the others of my kind. I hope you like the idea of fighting yōma without us.
>I’m actual royalty. Shut up and stay out of my way or you’ll see just how big a ‘problem’ I can be.
>I could just knock you and all your little friends out, then conduct my business.
>Monk. Are these men causing problems for you?
>Other?
>>
>>4840496
>I could just knock you and all your little friends out, then conduct my business.
>>
>>4840496
>>I could just knock you and all your little friends out, then conduct my business.
>>
>>4840496
>Monk. Are these men causing problems for you?
>>
>>4840496
>I could just knock you and all your little friends out, then conduct my business.
>>
>>4840496
>I could just knock you and all your little friends out, then conduct my business.
>>
>>4840496
>I could just knock you and all your little friends out, then conduct my business.
>>
>>4840496
>>Monk. Are these men causing problems for you?
>>
>>4840496
>>Monk. Are these men causing problems for you?
>I could just knock you and all your little friends out, then conduct my business.
>>
>>4840496
>Monk. Are these men causing problems for you?
>>
>>4840496
“I could always knock you and all your little friends here out,” you glare at the man. “Then conduct my business and leave.”

“And lift a finger against us mere mortals?” the man sneers. “I think not.”

“We silver-eyed warriors are highly discouraged from killing people,” you admit, “but that is part of why I made it a point to study the martial arts of Dari. I think you will find me quite capable of dislocating every major joint in your body before you can throw a punch.”

The sneer fades a little. “You... you’re serious?”

You nod. “Very serious.”

“I... don’t...” he falters.

“You could tell your superiors that you did not notice them,” the monk offers. “No one else here will say otherwise.”

“Then we’ll just be over here if you need us,” the guard offers before scampering away.

“Don’t mind them,” the monk shakes his head. “For the most part their bark is worse than their bite. So what is it that you want here, friends of Brother Vigilus?”

[You know Vigilus?] Serana wonders.

He nods. [He has spoken of you by letter. You must be miss Serana?]

[That’s right,] she smiles back. [So Vigilus talks about me?]

[A proud teacher,] the monk informs you all. “Brother Norin, pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“You are not sworn to silence,” you muse thoughtfully. “So you are from a different order than Vigilus?”

“That is right,” Norin nods. “So what brings you to our monastery?”

“We came here for information,” you admit. “The situation along the north coast of Sakia is a greater threat than most people realize, I fear.”

“What makes you think that?” the monk asks you, gesturing for you and your fellow warriors to join him in sitting on several stone benches in a quiet little garden.

>We have seen evidence of the sort of technology involved. It’s intimidating.
>How much do you know about the Crown Prince?
>Because I know the full story, and so can you if you want to know.
>Other?
>>
>>4842838
>How much do you know about the Crown Prince?
>Because I know the full story, and so can you if you want to know.
>>
>>4842838
>>How much do you know about the Crown Prince?
>>Because I know the full story, and so can you if you want to know.
>>
>>4842838
>How much do you know about the Crown Prince?
>Because I know the full story, and so can you if you want to know.
>>
>>4842838
>How much do you know about the Crown Prince?
>Because I know the full story, and so can you if you want to know.
>>
>>4842838
>>How much do you know about the Crown Prince?
>>Because I know the full story, and so can you if you want to know.
>>
>>4842838
“So how much do you know about Crown Prince Edmund?” you ask, something of a pointless question really. “Did you know that he had his father killed recently?”

“So you heard that rumor too?” the monk muses. “From whom did you hear that?”

“From Crown Prince Edmund.”

Norin sighs. “Well then, that’s harder to ignore... what did he do something like that for?”

“Because he and his father disagreed on how to handle an invasion,” you add, “along the north coast. By what from we can tell is a technologically advanced force of outsiders.”

“Outsiders?” Norin repeats.

“Ours isn’t the only inhabited continent in this world,” you inform him. “This may take some explaining...”
>1/2
>>
>>4844809
It takes a little while to explain everything that’s happening in some detail, as well as to place those events into a context where the monk might actually begin to believe what you’re saying. For some of it you rely on Serana.

“So you suspect that these outsiders are affiliated with the same organization that created you?”

You nod quietly. “We cannot rule that out.”

“And you have no information about their capabilities?”

“For now.”

“Why did you come here of all places?” Norin asks, shaking his head. “We are priests, not warriors or spies.”

>You hear things. I merely wish to know what it is you’ve been hearing.
>There are churches and cathedrals up north. Can you get in touch with them?
>But WE have spies, spies that could use a network of friendly faces in Sakia.
>Other?
>>
>>4844811
>There are churches and cathedrals up north. Can you get in touch with them?
Do not introduce him to our own intelligence network, just in case the Church in the North is compromised.
>>
>>4844811
>There are churches and cathedrals up north. Can you get in touch with them?
>>
>>4844811
>There are churches and cathedrals up north. Can you get in touch with them?
>>
>>4844811
>>There are churches and cathedrals up north. Can you get in touch with them?
>>
>>4844811
>>You hear things. I merely wish to know what it is you’ve been hearing.
>>There are churches and cathedrals up north. Can you get in touch with them?
>>
>>4844811
“There are many churches and cathedrals in the north,” you observe carefully. “And you already get messages from other monks like Vigilus, so communication within the church system is clearly not considered of any great strategic threat – all I ask is that you find a way to let us hear the same rumors you’re hearing and make our own determinations.”

“By getting those messages to Vigilus,” the monk nods, understanding how you intend that to work.

[Or through any of Hazaran’s other new border territories.]

After considering your proposal, Brother Norin is forced to partly concede. “I still have some concerns.”

“By all means,” you gesture for him to share his thoughts.

“You intend to use any information we give you for military purposes,” he guesses.

>Only to choose from a limited number of targets for – no large-scale battles.
>Any lives lost would be far outweighed by those we might be able to spare.
>Yes, humans will end up fighting and dying, but that’s what the invaders already planned for.
>Other?
>>
>>4846884
>Yes, humans will end up fighting and dying, but that’s what the invaders already planned for.
>Any lives lost would be far outweighed by those we might be able to spare.
>>
>>4846884
>>Yes, humans will end up fighting and dying, but that’s what the invaders already planned for.
>Any alternative I would take would be.... far more costly in lives.
>>
>>4846884
>Other?
"I believe the cause of continental defense and self-determination to be just."
>>
>>4846884
>Yes, humans will end up fighting and dying, but that’s what the invaders already planned for.
>Any alternative I would take would be.... far more costly in lives.
>>
>>4846884
>Yes, humans will end up fighting and dying, but that’s what the invaders already planned for.
>Any lives lost would be far outweighed by those we might be able to spare.
>>
>>4846884
“Yes, humans will probably end up fighting each other,” you admit, “fighting and dying. But that’s what the invaders already had in mind, and the alternative to acting would most likely end with more people dying.”

“You believe you can save more people through intervention than will be killed?”

You offer a curt nod. “Our plan is to make small-scale strikes, much as we did against the Inquisition. Degrade their ability to win a war decisively.”

“And how would you apply that principle here?”

[That depends,] Serana offers, sparing you a quick glance. [In the case of the Inquisition the targets were clear because their abilities were familiar.]

“Not so much in this case,” you admit. “We would need more information before deciding on specific targets, but we would probably want to focus on their supply lines. Particularly their coal bunkers, which would be the most likely source of fuel for their most advanced weapons and vehicles.”

“And so you would be relying on the citizens of Sakia to take matters into their own hands from there?”

Serana glances at you again. [It’s a fair question, Noel.]

>Yes. We’ll be counting on the likelihood there are some Sakians who resent being occupied.
>Do you have any suggestions for making that reaction more of a reliable outcome?
>The idea is to fight a “deep battle” that will sap the enemy’s strength before he even reaches us.
>Other?
>>
>>4849129
>Yes. We’ll be counting on the likelihood there are some Sakians who resent being occupied.
>>
>>4849129
>The idea is to fight a “deep battle” that will sap the enemy’s strength before he even reaches us.
Let him know that Sakia will not do all the fighting.
>>
>>4849170
That's basically saying that Sakia WILL do all the fighting though
>>
>>4849129
>Yes. We’ll be counting on the likelihood there are some Sakians who resent being occupied.

>>4849181
I agree.
>>
>>4849181
No. In Soviet Deep Battle theory, deep operations work in conjunction with front-line fighting. They are not completely independent raids without an overarching strategic vision. Thus, to be a true Deep Battle, regular troops from elsewhere will need to be involved.
>>
So a Sakian insurgency will play the role of interdiction airstrikes in the diagram above.
>>
>>4849199
I doubt its Soviet deep battle. More like get deep behind enemy lines and wreck their logistics through guerilla and insurgency actions.
>>
>>4849199
Soviet Deep Battle was entirely offensive. It can't be what Noel is talking about.
>>
>>4849220
I think the ultimate goal is to kick the invaders off the island, not come to an accommodation.
>>
>>4849235
"sap the enemy’s strength before he even reaches us" is definitely a defensive strategy.. What Noel is talking about is "defence in depth", not "deep battle", regardless of what the ultimate goal is.
>>
>>4849129
“We will be counting in part on an insurgency,” you admit. “Does that bother you?”

“Yes,” the priest admits. “Tell me, even if this approach does succeed, what are your intentions?”

>Just to get rid of the invaders, nothing more.
>The whole region needs to operate under a single leader.
>I want to contact the outside world.
>Write-in
>>
>>4852846
>Just to get rid of the invaders, nothing more
It would be interesting to contact the outside, but before that we need to ramp up our development so that we don't get colonized.
>>
>>4852846
>Just to get rid of the invaders, nothing more.
>>
>>4852846
>>Just to get rid of the invaders, nothing more.
>>
>>4852846
>>Just to get rid of the invaders, nothing more.
>>
>>4852846
>>4852925
Exactly this
>>
>>4852846
“As interested as I would be in contacting the ‘outside world’ that would be something for another time,” you declare. “But that could very well end in our whole continent’s subjugation. I’ve had quite enough of that for one lifetime.”

“And” the monk presses.

“And so expelling these invaders and keeping them gone is the only goal,” you admit.

[The technical advancements mainly serve that end?] Serana muses.

You shake your head. “Not exactly. Equitable distribution of any advancements could improve standard of living without giving any nation a strategic advantage, which would be a quite separate goal.”

“But one worth mentioning,” the monk insists. “Share your thoughts on this, please.”

“Indoor electric lighting,” you begin, “new power sources for industry, that sort of thing. The new weapons that could keep invaders from our shores would be the sticking point.”

[Because they could be turned onto neighbors on our own continent?]

You nod in agreement. “Yes, that’s exactly right.”

“But you still intend to improve your weaponry,” Norin reasserts what appears to be his main issue with your plan. “In what ways?”

“In ways that match the weapons used by the invaders,” you clarify. “Improved range and accuracy, and base-fused exploding shells. At the moment we don’t have the ability to produce such weapons.”

“And once you do?”

>Then I intend to distribute the knoweldge freely among the other nations.
>I intend to prioritize the coasts, even if that means we don’t have as many.
>I intend to secure Hazaran’s borders, and its new production abilities, first.
>Other?
>>
>>4854498
>Other?
Produce and sell them to allied nations on this continent. This provides for the common defense and binds the allies together.
>>
>>4854498
>>4854558
>>
>>4854558
Agreed, but keep the prices fair, the island cant afford to have nations not participating
>>
>>4854498
>>4854558
This
>>
>>4854698
Oh yes, there is room for, ahem, foreign aid.
>>
>>4854498
“I intend to distribute them,” you declare. “Hazaran can produce them, other nations can purchase them and use them as they see fit.”

“And Hazaran turns a profit?” Norin frowns. “That seems... not right.”

“I think you’re wrong about that?” Zara chimes in nervously, drawing the monk’s attention for the first time. “Sorry to interrupt!”

[Noel?] Serana gestures for you to clarify.

“We would be selling them at-cost,” you insist. “Which hardly guarantees equal access of course, but it would allow for some control over who gets how many.”

“But you have no control over how they use them,” Norin observes.

You shake your head. “No, of course not. Using them for border defense would be the sensible thing, but not everyone is sensible about these things.”

“I assume you would be placing your own guns carefully,” Lucia muses. “Two at Scaithness to start?”

That prompts a slight frown. “Hard to say. I feel like static defenses are starting to show their age as a concept... at very best we would need to design an alternative to barbette towers and batteries.”

“How do you mean?” Norin presses.

>I think what ends up produced in Hazaran needs to be coastal guns, not usable for land battle.
>We’re at a point right now where we may be setting the rules for future conflicts.
>It all depends on what the outsiders have brought and how we need to counter those things.
>Other?
>>
>>4856379
>We’re at a point right now where we may be setting the rules for future conflicts.
>>
>>4856379
>>I think what ends up produced in Hazaran needs to be coastal guns, not usable for land battle.
>>We’re at a point right now where we may be setting the rules for future conflicts.
>>
>>4856379
>It all depends on what the outsiders have brought and how we need to counter those things.
>>
>>4856379
>We’re at a point right now where we may be setting the rules for future conflicts.
>It all depends on what the outsiders have brought and how we need to counter those things.
>>
>>4856379
>It all depends on what the outsiders have brought and how we need to counter those things.
>>
>>4856379
>>We’re at a point right now where we may be setting the rules for future conflicts.
>>
>>4856379
“In a sense we may be set to rewrite the common consensus regarding warfare and strategy,” you admit.

Norin stares at you for a moment before you clarify. “What happens to every fortification in our corner of the world when every cannon can fire a shell that can penetrate iron plate before exploding?”

“… I see.”

You nod curtly. “All the money all the countries on our continent have poured into static defenses may end up being a waste.”

[The towers you proposed building?]

“That’s a possible exception,” you concede to Serana’s point. “It may not be so dramatic as all that. But it does mirror what we’re trying to do now.”

[In an almost literal sense,] Serana realizes.

“Wait… help me out with that,” Lucia frowns.

[When the Organization’s backers advance, we will seek to attack their lines of supply behind where their main forces have advanced. Smaller fortifications serve a similar goal of depleting an attacking force’s momentum.]

“That’s right,” you nod. “Much the same way a soft redirect works in personal combat, the goal is to change an enemy force’s ability to focus its power and drive towards an objective. In the case of the single-gun towers, or even smaller defenses, it means causing attrition while yielding some territory.”

“And it makes it harder for them to do to us what we’re here to do to them,” Lucia realizes, completing the though.

[Exactly. If a defensive line cannot hold, simply erase the concept of the line to be broken.]

“All of that is a different process to what we are talking about producing,” you admit, “so in a sense we are getting ahead of ourselves. The sort of artillery I was talking about would be best used to counteract armored warships and landing ships. Using them to guard mountain passes or key bridges would be a good use as well.”

>So, is there anything else you want to ask me before agreeing to the relatively simple task I want you to do?
>You’re actually afraid right now, aren’t you? All this talk of war, invasion, and an outside world you never knew of?
>If you don’t want to help me just say so. We can find a better collaborator, no penalties to you at all.
>Other?
>>
>>4857462
>>So, is there anything else you want to ask me before agreeing to the relatively simple task I want you to do?
>>
>>4857462
>So, is there anything else you want to ask me before agreeing to the relatively simple task I want you to do?
>You’re actually afraid right now, aren’t you? All this talk of war, invasion, and an outside world you never knew of?
>If you don’t want to help me just say so. We can find a better collaborator, no penalties to you at all.
>Other?

Ask about what he knows about the internal politics and leanings of other groups and ranking members.
>>
>>4857462
>>So, is there anything else you want to ask me before agreeing to the relatively simple task I want you to do?
>>
>>4857462
>You’re actually afraid right now, aren’t you? All this talk of war, invasion, and an outside world you never knew of?
>>
>>4857462
>So, is there anything else you want to ask me before agreeing to the relatively simple task I want you to do?
>>
>>4857462
>If you don’t want to help me just say so. We can find a better collaborator, no penalties to you at all.
>>
>>4857462
>So, is there anything else you want to ask me before agreeing to the relatively simple task I want you to do?
>>
>>4857462
“So is there anything else you need to ask me about?” you press, perhaps coming off as slightly more aggressive than you intended. “My request is simple enough.”

“Perhaps so,” Norin replies, “but the repercussions could be complicated.”

“You can say no.”

>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 4, 1, 7 = 12 (3d10)

>>4859391
ready for a bad roll? here's one!
>>
Rolled 1, 10, 6 = 17 (3d10)

>>4859391
>>
Rolled 4, 8, 7 = 19 (3d10)

>>4859391
>>
>>4859391
Still need one more, so I'll have to update again tomorrow (after a god-awful shift I have scheduled).
>>
Rolled 2, 1, 2 = 5 (3d10)

>>4859391
>>
>>4859391
“And there would be no consequences to our saying no?”

“I am a very different sort of ruler than this crown prince. If I tell you that you can say no, then there are no hidden caveats and there will be no reprisals. I mean it – you can say no. I will simply find an alternative to achieve my desired ends.”

“I see,” Norin muses, seemingly still wary of you. “That is quite different indeed to how Sakia’s government makes its presence felt of late. You will have to forgive me if I sound somewhat skeptical – we have been given assurances before, such as the assurance that the church would be left as an independent structure within Sakia.”

[If the government thugs are any indication that arrangement is starting to change.]

“Quite so, though that is merely the latest and most obvious manifestation of a very old... ‘tension’, I suppose is the right word.”

“The same ‘tension’ that caused Daria to secede,” you muse.

“That’s most likely true, yes.”

“Then that’s all the more reason to do what I’m asking of you, isn’t it?”

After a few moments, Norin sighs wearily. “You’re probably correct about that. Not all of my peers will agree, so I will concentrate on those who will and get you the best information I can.”

>Then I will leave you. I still have other business to attend to.
>Tell me one more thing – have there been any reports of yōma lately?
>Tell me – have you heard rumors of any other silver-eyed warriors lately?
>So, about those thugs we saw earlier – shall we deal with them?
>Other?
>>
>>4862729
>>Then I will leave you. I still have other business to attend to.
>>Tell me one more thing – have there been any reports of yōma lately?
>>
>>4862729
>Tell me one more thing – have there been any reports of yōma lately?
>>
>>4862729
>>Tell me one more thing – have there been any reports of yōma lately?
>>
>>4862729
>Tell me one more thing – have there been any reports of yōma lately?
>Tell me – have you heard rumors of any other silver-eyed warriors lately?
>So, about those thugs we saw earlier – shall we deal with them?
>>
>>4862729
>Then I will leave you. I still have other business to attend to.
>Tell me one more thing – have there been any reports of yōma lately?
>>
>>4862729
>>Tell me – have you heard rumors of any other silver-eyed warriors lately?
>>
>>4862729
“I have one more question – have you heard reports of yōma lately?” you ask Norin.

After pondering a moment, he has this to say; “Strange, I’ve not heard of a yōma-related incident in months.”

Serana glances at you, a slight nervousness evident in her expression.

>It means nothing yet, but we need to keep our eyes and ears open.
>I think that about settles it, don’t you?
>Are you SURE you haven’t heard anything? What about silver-eyed warriors?
>Other?
>>
>>4864602
>Are you SURE you haven’t heard anything? What about silver-eyed warriors?
>>
>>4864602
>Are you SURE you haven’t heard anything? What about silver-eyed warriors?
>>
>>4864602
>>Are you SURE you haven’t heard anything? What about silver-eyed warriors?
>>
>>4864602
“And anything about silver-eyed warriors?”

Norin seems confused by your question. “What, you mean others like yourselves?”

“That’s right.”

“Not recently… which is odd,” he decides, considering the question carefully. “You used to hear complaints about them scaring people all the time.”

“By intimidating them?” Zara asks skeptically.

[Probably more by existing,] Serana quickly signs. [You’re getting too used to Hazaran.]

“Where they know their queen is like us,” Zara nods.

“Hazari civilians always seemed more accepting of our kind than average,” you admit. “I can’t really explain why.”

“Tastes may differ regionally in ways that don’t always have a clear reason,” Norin observes. “Fashion, cuisine, dialect.”

“True enough,” you admit. “In any event, thank you for your help.”

“Of course.”



You spend the rest of the day heading in the direction where you assume you should find Solaris, progressing across open rolling terrain and through small crossroads towns where you can tell you’re the most unusual thing any of the people living there have seen in a long time. That’s a dangerous situation for you, since unusual happenings tend to become rumors – so you don’t ever stay anywhere for long and you decide to make it a point to finish this mission as quickly as possible.

After sleeping outside that night, you strike out early and Zara senses Solaris by her yōki aura at range.

“So how do you want to do this?” Zara wonders.

>Only one of us should go. Solaris may be in a position where we could accidentally compromise her.
>We could use our yōki to draw Solaris out from wherever it is she is at the moment.
>We could scout the situation after dark – right now we don’t even know if she’s in a town, let alone what she’s up to.
>Other?
>>
>>4865328
>Only one of us should go. Solaris may be in a position where we could accidentally compromise her.
>>
>>4865328
>>Only one of us should go. Solaris may be in a position where we could accidentally compromise her.
>>
>>4865328
>Only one of us should go. Solaris may be in a position where we could accidentally compromise her.
>>
>>4865328
>Only one of us should go. Solaris may be in a position where we could accidentally compromise her.
>>
>>4865328
“I think only one of us should go, at least at first,” you decide, “that way we minimize the risk of compromising her by mistake.”

“True,” Zara nods thoughtfully. “I can only tell where she is and that she’s not fighting, but anything else happening around her is more or less invisible. I know Nessa has been working on a way to sense in that kind of detail, but for me…”

“It’s okay,” Lucia insists. “This has been a problem with sensing techniques since long before any of us became warriors.”

[I’ve heard of past single-digits who developed skills like that,] Serana offers, [so I believe it is possible. But I do not know how they did it, or whether what I have heard is even true.]

“We might ask my mother about it,” you decide, “but worry about that later. Just keep your senses focused on my yōki. If it flares briefly, come in after me quietly. If I raise and sustain it, come in ready to fight. Understood?”

Everyone nods in agreement, and so you set out towards where Solaris should be.



It’s a small town, straddling a river with two stone bridges crossing it – one at the north end of the town and one at the south. Its walls are low and made of rammed earth backing right up against the last row of buildings furthest from the river, and there is just one gate on either side. That forces any traffic coming through the town to divert to one of the two bridges, meaning that travelers are going to flow past businesses throughout the town’s central streets. There’s no way that could possibly be bad for business.

Your sword is wrapped up inside its scabbard, and it’s slung beside Alysheba’s saddle in such a way that it doesn’t quite look like what it is. Your choice of cloaks and hoods also hides your features well enough that in the evening dim you should draw little attention to yourself.

>Ride straight to where Solaris is.
>Make an effort to play the role of a traveler.
>Find a place to eat near the river and let Solaris come to you.
>Other?
>>
>>4866405
>Make an effort to play the role of a traveler.
>>
>>4866405
>Make an effort to play the role of a traveler.
>>
>>4866405
>Make an effort to play the role of a traveler.
>>
>>4866405
“I have a dilemma,” you muse, “two sets of memories that are incompatible, and only one of them can be true – at most.”

“The ones the bird told you about,” Kakashi insists curtly.

“Wait,” Isoka chirps, doing something of a double-take. “What?”

“Unfortunately I agree,” you nod. “I shouldn’t have been able to summon Isoka-han, nor should I have Shisui-han’s eye, if my life in Konohagakure was the truth. And to the extent I can make sense of it, it’s her account that feels most consistent.”

You spare Isoka a glance. “So what do you know about how I got these eyes?”

“One you got from Itachi-san when you were younger,” she tells you, “after he rescued you or something, I wasn’t there. The other one you nabbed from that Danzō jerkass at the Five Kage summit.”

Now you glance at Kakashi-han. “Comments?”

“Lord Danzō was killed in the last war by Hanzō the Salamander,” Kakashi informs you, “and I don’t know how Itachi-san would have a spare sharingan just lying around even if he had ever rescued you... or something.”

“A spare eye...” you muse. “Uchiha Izumi.”

“Has been dead since the attempted coup,” Kakashi supplies the missing information. “She and Itachi were close as children, she was killed in the fighting.”

“I remember now,” you realize, “grafts of my own tissues and a genetic framework supplied by... ah.”

Kaguya, the celestial being of the ancient legends.

“It’s starting to make sense,” you realize. “Yeah... it’s coming back now, a bit at a time.”

>I need to speak to Karin immediately, where can I find her?
>No... you need to wait for the right moment, and that’s during the exams.
>You have a smart man here. Kakashi can help you figure out how to ‘win’.
>Other?
>>
>>4866405
You arrived here as a traveler, so you need to play the role not to stand out too much. And that means finding a room in an inn, as well as stabling for Alysheba, something to eat, and an excuse for being in this town at all.

There’s a nice place by the river with a free room, where there’s a little cafe in the adjacent building, which is an excellent find. You make yourself seen entering, but do your best to avoid being seen much more than that. Alysheba has a proper stable to spend the night in, should you need to stay the night yourself. As for your excuse, you can only find one for stopping – new leather tack for Alysheba. This is a good town for that sort of thing from what you’ve overheard.

It’s while you’re eating a light meal of a croissant, some thin-sliced cured meats, and some chunks of smoked cheese with dark tea, that Solaris finds you.

“I thought we weren’t supposed to meet like this,” she muses, taking a seat across from you in a back corner of the cafe. “What have you learned?”

“That the crown prince has allied himself with the invaders,” you explain. “Which is a problem for the rest of us.”

“Anyone within the borders of Sakia now has to contend with the government’s forces,” Solaris sighs wearily. “Great. So what do you want us to do?”

>The mission hasn’t changed.
>I want you and the other awakened beings to get a little more aggressive.
>Stick closer to the duckling spies. They may need you.
>This calls for a more direct approach – a coordinated strike.
>Other?

Apologies for the error above, my chromebook gets wonky when I try to copy and paste sometimes. I'll remove it as soon as it lets me.
>>
>>4867478
>Stick closer to the duckling spies. They may need you.
>>
>>4867478
>Stick closer to the duckling spies. They may need you.
>>
>>4867478
>>Stick closer to the duckling spies. They may need you.
>>
>>4867478
>Stick closer to the duckling spies. They may need you.
>>
>>4867478
“It makes sense to stick closer to the duckling spies,” you decide. “Their job has gotten a lot more dangerous.”

“And will we be allowed to kill should it become necessary?” Solaris asks. “I ask because it seems increasingly likely that I would need to make a decision like that, should the option be available.”

>Yes. I choose the ducklings over a few collaborators.
>No. I want you to do everything to can to avoid that.
>Only with the added condition of absolute secrecy.
>Other?
>>
>>4868541
>Yes. I choose the ducklings over a few collaborators.
>But one should avoid ending up in situations were killing must happen.
>>
>>4868541
>>Yes. I choose the ducklings over a few collaborators.
>>
>>4868541
>>4868548
>>
>>4868548
>>4868541
this
>>
>>4868541
“I choose the lives of the ducklings over a few collaborators,” you admit with a frown, “though I’m a little uncomfortable with how easy the choice is for me. But as always, I’d prefer to avoid even having to make that decision in the first place.”

“So were I to take a human life there would be no retribution?” Solaris asks curiously.

You shake your head. “That depends on what the duckling you were saving says about the situation that prompted you to take such action. But I have faith that with your level of ability it should not become necessary.”

“You’re probably right,” Solaris agrees. “I’ll continue to avoid killing anyone.”

You can’t help but wonder about something. “Why do you keep asking me? Don’t you have your own feelings on the matter?”

“To an extent,” Solaris shrugs. “You see your mother and I aren’t human anymore, and so our perspective is even more skewed than that of any regular, garden-variety warrior. You and your fellow half-awakened warriors however straddle the line – you know what it’s like on our side of the proverbial fence. You more so than the others even.”

“So I value your judgment on matters like this.”

After a moment, you nod in agreement. “I understand.”

>Head back to Hazaran and begin arranging for the attacks that are to come.
>Find your mother, tell her the same thing you told Solaris just now.
>Do a little scouting of your own, so long as you’re already here.
>Other?
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>>4868872
>>Find your mother, tell her the same thing you told Solaris just now.
>>Do a little scouting of your own, so long as you’re already here.
>>
>>4868872
>>4868999
>>
>>4868872
>Find your mother, tell her the same thing you told Solaris just now.
>Do a little scouting of your own, so long as you’re already here.
>>
>>4868872
>Find your mother, tell her the same thing you told Solaris just now.
>Do a little scouting of your own, so long as you’re already he