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/qst/ - Mitsuba Archive


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You are Noel Tiberius di Hazaran, queen of the nation with which you share a name and one of the leaders of a technically-rogue band of half-monster warriors. At the moment you’re leading a group of four including yourself, who have met one of your spies along with your monstrous mother in a port town well to the north of your borders, in order to address a growing threat.

“So this is what we know,” you muse quietly, your voice little more than a whisper in the dark. “The enemy has been producing steam-powered vehicles here capable of effectively laying their own tracks over rough terrain, which can carry automatic firearms, light armor, and probably can tow heavy mortars or ammunition across country.”

“In order to do this they have imported machinery and parts, as well as built local facilities to process raw materials and fuel.”

“The ones we sabotaged,” Lucia recalls.

You nod. “Correct. This leaves three problems – their weapons, the vehicles they have already produced, and the warships in port.”

[The vehicles will no doubt be difficult to keep working,] Serana signs silently with her hands.

“Meaning they may not decide to commit them for now,” you share your own suspicions. “That was what I was thinking too. At worst it bought us some time to work with.”

“Which leaves the ships,” Zara adds. “What are we going to do about them?”

“They’re hardly an imminent threat of invasion,” Lucia observes.

“But miss Noel was right, they could be carrying ammunition, tools, machinery, other supplies,” Zara offers nervously. “I mean, we have to do something, right?”

“I believe so,” you declare. “But the difficulty is the density of people aboard such a ship, and the size of the portholes.”

[You’re concerned if she sinks people will die.]

“It’s almost certain,” you sigh softly. “Humans are so weak, and slow, and fragile, and not very bright for the most part. At least one of them will get himself caught belowdecks and will drown unless the flooding is very slow.”

“So what is the solution?” Zara wonders aloud.

>Theft. We sneak aboard and dump any ammunition or fuel we can get our hands on. Knock out anyone who resists.
>We leave long, thin cuts in the hull, then set off their alarms if they have them. Make it impossible to fix.
>We run them aground, then watch to see where they offload any ammunition and equipment carried aboard.
>Other?
>>
>>4893211
>>Theft. We sneak aboard and dump any ammunition or fuel we can get our hands on. Knock out anyone who resists.
not like there'd be anywhere to run to if the boat is on sea
>>
>>4893211
>We leave long, thin cuts in the hull, then set off their alarms if they have them. Make it impossible to fix.
>>
>>4893211
>>We leave long, thin cuts in the hull, then set off their alarms if they have them. Make it impossible to fix.
>>
>>4893211
>We leave long, thin cuts in the hull, then set off their alarms if they have them. Make it impossible to fix.
what use is a boat if it can't sail without risk of sinking?
>>
>>4893211
>>We leave long, thin cuts in the hull, then set off their alarms if they have them. Make it impossible to fix.
>>
>>4893211
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 7, 7, 1 = 15 (3d10)

>>4893704
>>
Rolled 2, 9, 9 = 20 (3d10)

>>4893704
>>
>>4893211
>We run them aground, then watch to see where they offload any ammunition and equipment carried aboard.
>>
Rolled 5, 10, 4 = 19 (3d10)

>>4893704
>>
>>4893211
“If we leave long, thin cuts in the ships’ hulls, below the waterline,” you reason, “we can cause slow but irreversible flooding. Combine that with setting off their alarms and there shouldn’t be any fatalities.”

[It would help to execute this plan during the daylight hours,] Serana offers. [Give them the best chance to escape.]

“You’re correct,” you admit. “We’ll move just before sunrise... except for you, Serana.”

[Why?]

“Your missing arm would make it harder to swim,” Zara points out nervously. “I mean... wouldn’t it?”

Serana stares at her for a moment.

“... wouldn’t it?” Zara repeats, aghast at the silent treatment she’s receiving.

“So that settles it,” you declare. “Serana will be setting off the alarms. The rest of us are going for a little swim.”

...

It’s an old trick, crossing rivers by using breathing tubes, but a trick that gets you most of the way out without being noticed. The last little distance you cross by swimming underwater and holding your breath while Serana boards the steam warship.

You find that with nothing to leverage yourselves against you can’t leave the long cuts you intended, but you can do the next best thing. Bracing yourselves against the keel you leave cuts nearly eight feet long, one on each side all down the length of the warship. It takes surfacing a few times for air, since unlike food and water you still need to breathe fairly regularly, but the cuts cover nearly a third of the warship’s beam.

It isn’t long before the results become apparent.

Had you been aiming for maximum casualties instead of none you would have placed the cuts all on the same side, causing the ship to flood unevenly and roll. But instead she begins to settle on an empty keel.

“Hurry!” you hear an officer shout over the clanging of an alarm, “load those boats quick as you can and get them in the water!”

So they’re trying to offload supplies even now?

>Join Serana and start destroying the supplies before they can offload any more.
>Leave well enough alone. You can track the supplies once they’re onshore anyway.
>One cut to the bottom of each boat should solve this problem.
>Other?
>>
>>4895662
>>Leave well enough alone. You can track the supplies once they’re onshore anyway.
>>
>>4895662
>Other?
Steal the boats like we stole the inquisitions cannons when they get close to the shore.
>>
>>4895662
>One cut to the bottom of each boat should solve this problem.
>>4895713
Too close to shore and the cargo can still be salvaged.
>>
>>4895662
>Leave well enough alone. You can track the supplies once they’re onshore anyway.
>>
>>4895662
>>One cut to the bottom of each boat should solve this problem.
>>
>>4895662
>>One cut to the bottom of each boat should solve this problem.
>>
>>4895662
>One cut to the bottom of each boat should solve this problem.
>>
>>4895662
Are they loading the boats with cargo or people? This is unclear. If the latter then
>One cut to the bottom of each boat should solve this problem.
If the former:
>Leave well enough alone. You can track the supplies once they’re onshore anyway.
>>
>>4895662
You signal to your party with your free hand before diving under water: [Cut the boats. One each.]

...

Like a trio of sharks you first stalk your prey, then attack with single powerful strikes. The wooden hulls of the small boats couldn’t possibly hope to withstand your attacks, and you cut them as easily as a woodsman might chop well-seasoned firewood. One each is all it takes.

You hear distorted shouting from above the water, and then from one of the boats you hear a quick series of gunshots before the boat begins to break up. Unfortunately one of those shots struck true.

...

In an alleyway a few streets back from the waterfront, you carefully pull the two bullets out of the channels they dug into Lucia’s body. Zara is holding her by the shoulders, not watching as you work, while Serana is standing guard. A trickle of blood finds its way out from the corner of Lucia’s mouth as she clenches her teeth to keep from crying out in pain.

“Everything they managed to get off that ship we put in the harbor, with no casualties that I could see,” you insist quietly. “Once we get these things out of you it’ll be a complete win for us.”

She nods curtly.


“You did great, Lucia,” you continue, “just hold still...”
>3d10, best three of four
>>
Rolled 7, 2, 2 = 11 (3d10)

>>4897096
>>
Rolled 8, 2, 5 = 15 (3d10)

>>4897096
>>
Rolled 5, 8, 9 = 22 (3d10)

>>4897096
>>
Rolled 7, 8, 9 = 24 (3d10)

>>4897096
>>
>>4897096
You have to fish around inside Lucia’s body for a few moments... each movement of your fingers prompting a wince that’s even painful for you to see. But eventually you find the same number of bullets that match the number of holes, and remove them from her body.

“There,” you tell her quietly. “You’re fine to regenerate.”

“... thanks,” she grunts. “That turned out to be a real pain.”

“I never expected them to prioritize shooting you over saving themselves,” you admit. “Even over saving their precious cargo.”

“Neither did I,” she admits. “It may have been your decision, but I only blame the enemy.”

[We need to move,] Zara warns you silently.

...

You find your way to where Serana came ashore, to find her surrounded and concerned.

She has her good hand on the hilt of her sword, but finds herself at gunpoint and surrounded. There must have been soldiers waiting for her on the shore after she set off the alarms, and now she has a dozen of them aiming rifles straight for her.

“I’ll only say it one more time!” one of the men barks at her. “Who are you working for and why are you here!?”

She watches them, not with apprehension but with resolution to act. She knows you’re here, she simply also knows that she can’t anticipate what you will do about this situation.

>Step out, alone, declaring that she works for you, the Queen of Hazaran.
>Step out alone, but merely insist that she’s mute and can’t speak for herself.
>Attack from the shadows, draw their attention while disabling their weapons.
>Other?
>>
>>4898689
>Step out alone, but merely insist that she’s mute and can’t speak for herself.
>>
>>4898689
>Attack from the shadows, draw their attention while disabling their weapons.
>>
>>4898689
>Attack from the shadows, draw their attention while disabling their weapons.
>>
>>4898689
>Step out alone, but merely insist that she’s mute and can’t speak for herself.
>>
>>4898689
>>Attack from the shadows, draw their attention while disabling their weapons.
>>
>>4898689
>Attack from the shadows, draw their attention while disabling their weapons.
>>
>>4898689
>3d10, best three of four
>>
Rolled 4, 4, 10 = 18 (3d10)

>>4900207
>>
Rolled 9, 1, 10 = 20 (3d10)

>>4900207
I may not have caught up to the story yet, but I will roll these dice as I have a crippling addiction to dice rolling.
>>
Rolled 10, 3, 9 = 22 (3d10)

>>4900207
>>
Rolled 6, 9, 6 = 21 (3d10)

>>4900207
>>
>>4900207
You can hardly help your instinctive recklessness, especially when it’s Serana. Your sword is out almost before you realize it, dashing around the blind corner of an alleyway and crossing just a few feet of open ground in an instant. One of the bulky automatic guns has been set up on a monopod aimed at Serana – this is your first target, and you slice through both weapon and support with an effortless slash. That gives Serana a moment where she knows she’ll be able to move as well, and she takes advantage of the surprise.

She deliberately maneuvers so that her would-be attackers would be firing on each other if they wanted to fire on her, and you follow on with the next logical step. Serana slices through one man’s weapon as you do the same behind her. With each movement you shift, constantly keeping your enemies just confused enough that they have to always re-think whether they have a clean enough shot to pull the trigger.

One does, putting a bullet into a heavy wooden door near Serana, and so you avoid him with your next attack only to find that he can turn a somewhat J-shaped bolt visible behind the barrel of his weapon and reload with stunning speed. Not quick enough that you can’t cut the end of his weapon off in a cloud of splinters and iron shavings, but almost.

You turn past each other, gracefully covering for one another as you both move, until you see an opening and bolt down an alleyway, Serana not far behind you. With a few acrobatic leaps between the sides of the buildings you reach the roof level, then vault across narrow roads and alleys until you can both drop into a small courtyard where the rest of your party is waiting for you.

“Let’s go,” you insist curtly.

“What about your mother, and Carlotta?” Zara asks you, glancing around to make sure you’re not being observed.

>They’re fine here, but we’ve overstayed our welcome.
>They’ve accomplished their mission – leaving them here would be a pointless risk.
>We should meet with them after dark to confer.
>Other?
>>
>>4901497
>We should meet with them after dark to confer.
>>
>>4901497
>They’ve accomplished their mission – leaving them here would be a pointless risk.
>>
>>4901497
They've accomplished their mission, ..
>>
>>4901497
>>They’ve accomplished their mission – leaving them here would be a pointless risk.
>>
>>4901497
>We should meet with them after dark to confer.
>>
>>4901497
>They’ve accomplished their mission – leaving them here would be a pointless risk.
>>
>>4901497
>We should meet with them after dark to confer.
>>
>>4901497
>>We should meet with them after dark to confer.
>>
>>4901497
“We completed the sort of mission they were sent here to make possible,” you observe. “So unless they can give me a reason they should stay I think they should come with us.”

[It does seem like all risk for no further reward,] Serana agrees.

“So... we plan to meet them?” Zara fidgets. “Isn’t that a risk too?”

“Maybe,” you admit. “But I still think it would be better.”

“We can be careful about it,” Lucia sighs, still clutching her side – you gather it was mostly the digging around that’s left her with lingering pain. “Make sure we aren’t seen.”

[That should go without saying.]

>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 2, 1, 4 = 7 (3d10)

>>4903496
>>
Rolled 9, 5, 5 = 19 (3d10)

>>4903496
>>
Rolled 10, 8, 8 = 26 (3d10)

>>4903496
>>
>>4903496
You have to spend the rest of the day evading foot patrols, which involves working your way out towards the edge of town. Lucia was badly wounded before so she and Zara both wait with your horses, once you can get them over the sad excuse for a wall that is supposed to be protecting the port from invaders on land. In reality, for much of its existence the rest of Sakia has served as a “wall” much more than the four-foot line of bricks ever could.

You also persuade Serana to remain with Zara, Lucia, and the horses as well, making the argument that it will be easier to sneak back into the town with just one person instead of two in the same way that two people would be easier than four.



When you meet with Sabela and Carlotta, the mood is immediately tense.

“Well,” your mother begins to explain, “there’s some good news and some bad news. The good news is you hit these newcomers hard enough and in the right spot that it’s going to hurt for a long time.”

“The bad news is they’re planning to make an example of the crew of that ship you sank,” Carlotta adds. “Tomorrow at dawn.”

>Then we should do something about that before sunrise.
>Humans killing humans has never been our problem to fix.
>Helping may be right, but we also have to consider our own safety.
>Other?
>>
>>4903648
>Helping may be right, but we also have to consider our own safety.
If they know we're sworn not to kill humans, this might be a trap to lure us out.
>>
>>4903648
>Helping may be right, but we also have to consider our own safety.
>>
>>4903648
>>Helping may be right, but we also have to consider our own safety.
>>
>>4903648
>Then we should do something about that before sunrise.
Doing so may drive a wedge in the opposition, and if the crew is grateful, perhaps we can gain some information.
>>
>>4903648
>Humans killing humans has never been our problem to fix.
>Other?
See if the actually kill one of the crew, or if its a firing squad, check to see if their guns are actually loaded.
>>
>>4903648
“Helping them may be the right thing,” you frown, considering what you can and can’t probably get away with in this sort of situation. “But there are limits to what we can do, and this I think passes those limits… how many crew serve aboard a ship that size?”

“Around three hundred,” your mother informs you.

Carlotta seems aghast, eyes wide behind her mousy fringe. “Three hundred… how can they? How can we ignore it?”

“The life of one warrior is more important,” Sabela admits tersely. “It’s a harsh truth.”

“They would probably have to hold those men in a warehouse, bound so that they couldn’t work together to free themselves,” you reason out the next steps of an authority bent on that sort of inhumanity. “Bring out a dozen or so at a time and shoot them, remove the bodies, then repeat.”

Sabela nods in agreement. “Were I so inclined that would be my approach.”

“And you intend to allow that to happen?” Carlotta frowns.

“As opposed to what?” you ask. “Freeing all three-hundred of them right out from under the enemy’s noses? They know that we came here, they will have the prisoners under heavy guard.”

“And even if we could release them what then?” Sabela adds. “Do we escort them out personally, most likely under enemy fire? Do we turn them loose to start a running battle around civilians? What happens when some of the three hundred decide to take hostages?”

“You’re making a lot of assumptions.”

“None of which are unreasonable.”

“The only assumption we need to make is that once they’ve settled on this course of action,” you clarify, “they will pursue it in a way that makes sense.”

“And if that assumption is mistaken?”

“Then the next most likely scenario is that it’s a trap,” Sabela takes the thought to its logical conclusion.

>All three of us are leaving, now. That is my decision.
>Is there any purpose either of you can see to staying here any futher?
>I would like the two of you to remain – you will NOT get involved, however.
>Other?
>>
>>4905729
>>Is there any purpose either of you can see to staying here any futher?
>>
>>4905729
>>Is there any purpose either of you can see to staying here any futher?
>>
>>4905729
>Other?
Something like Operation Jericho. Blast open the gate and get the heck out of Dodge. Let the prisoners find their own way to freedom.
>>
>>4903648
I'm curious as to how we learned of the execution, did they announce it in the public square?
Did not very drunk soldiers start blabbing about it in the pub?
Was Sabela literally on their roof eaves dropping?
>>
>>4905729
>>All three of us are leaving, now. That is my decision.
>>
>>4905729
>All three of us are leaving, now. That is my decision.
>>
>>4905729
“As of right now my decision is that we should withdraw,” you declare. “I’ll give you one chance to change my mind, if you think there’s a reason to stay.”

After a moment, even Carlotta shakes her head. “No. Given what you’ve said, no.”

...

You make your move that night.

Once you’re all out of the city, you meet up with the rest of your group who now have to decide whose horse gets to carry an extra rider – you trade places with Sabela, who Alysheba will reluctantly carry, while Carlotta rides with Lucia, the lightest of your number aside from her.

“So where did you get that information?” Lucia wonders as you ride through the night, your own footfalls keeping pace with Alysheba’s gaited trot for now. “Word of this execution I mean?”

“My former employer, the butcher,” Carlotta clarifies. “Why, you don’t think he...”

>We shouldn’t jump to conclusions so readily – to make this decision, we didn’t even have to.
>It’s possible. That’s the lesson to learn here – always at least keep the worst case in mind.
>It’s pretty likely, though he probably didn’t sell you out of his own accord. Most people wouldn’t.
>Other?
>>
>>4907040
>It’s possible. That’s the lesson to learn here – always at least keep the worst case in mind.
>Other?
Where did he hear that from? Does he think they'll really do it? Their own people?
>>
>>4907040
>It’s possible. That’s the lesson to learn here – always at least keep the worst case in mind.
>>
>>4907040
>It’s possible. That’s the lesson to learn here – always at least keep the worst case in mind.
>>
>>4907040
>It’s possible. That’s the lesson to learn here – always at least keep the worst case in mind.
>>
>>4907040
“To give you an example, where did the butcher get his information?” you muse.

After a moment, Carlotta admits she doesn’t know. “I guess I never asked myself the question.”

“It’s possible that he heard it from a customer,” you continue, “but it’s also possible that he was told this information by our enemy – and threatened perhaps, either with harm to himself, his family, or his business. My point is that we cannot know all the details about the people we rely on for information in places like this, and so we have to bring a certain amount of skepticism to the process.”

“I understand your concerns,” Carlotta sighs. “I suppose I still have a lot to learn.”

“This sort of sense can be hard-won,” Serana reassures your rookie member. “Even for those warriors who completed the Organization’s training.”

>Reassure her with a story of one of your own early missteps.
>Offer to continue your spies’ training upon return to Hazaran.
>Suggest continued practice – a re-deployment.
>Other?
>>
>>4908107
>Suggest continued practice – a re-deployment.
>>
>>4908107
>Suggest continued practice – a re-deployment.
>>
>>4908107
>Reassure her with a story of one of your own early missteps.
>Suggest continued practice – a re-deployment.
>>
>>4908107
>>4908299
this
>>
>>4908107
“It takes some practice sometimes,” you confess. “We’ve all made mistakes in judgment before, myself included, particularly when we were still young.”

“Oh, I made some spectacular ones,” your mother admits candidly. “Aside from the obvious series of miscalculations and misfortunes.”

[I messed up and got my throat torn out,] Serana signs over her shoulder.

“I half-awakened on a gamble,” you offer. “Turned out well for me in the end of course, but still... looking back it was a terrible decision and I’m lucky I was born ready to take advantage of it.”

“I got a very dear friend of mine killed,” Sabela adds. “Olivia gave too much of herself on my account... it weakened her, and she died before she should have in part because she spent so much of her literal life bailing me out.”

“... I didn’t know you felt that way,” you tell her. “I don’t think she’d want you to, though I know Emma wouldn’t want me to feel guilty over her death either and I still do anyway.”

[I once lost a yōma because I was chasing a rumor,] Serana admits.

“No kidding?”

She nods. [Out in Hibernia. It boarded a ship bound for the west, though the rumor I was working on had it heading south.]

“It happens,” you shrug. “I doubt you’d let that happen again of course.”

[My senses have improved, so no.]

“So... I still have a lot to learn,” Carlotta sighs, “and the best teacher is experience?”

“Often,” Sabela nods.

>We’ll redeploy you to Daria. That’s the most likely place for the Organization to try causing unrest.
>We can move you within Sakia to keep an eye on how things develop north of our borders.
>Sabela, Carlotta – based on what you’ve learned, where does it make sense to track the Organization’s recovery efforts?
>Other?
>>
>>4909331
>Sabela, Carlotta – based on what you’ve learned, where does it make sense to track the Organization’s recovery efforts?
>>
>>4909331
>Sabela, Carlotta – based on what you’ve learned, where does it make sense to track the Organization’s recovery efforts?
>>
>>4909331
>Sabela, Carlotta – based on what you’ve learned, where does it make sense to track the Organization’s recovery efforts?
>>
>>4909331
>>Sabela, Carlotta – based on what you’ve learned, where does it make sense to track the Organization’s recovery efforts?
>>
>>4909331
“So based on what you know, where would the best place be to monitor the Organization’s efforts to recover from our attack?”

There’s a long silence before Sabela offers her thoughts. “You hit them hard, and proved the vulnerability of their longer supply lines. Were I in their position I would be securing a different port, relatively nearby.”

“May I disagree?” Carlotta asks, and you gesture for her to speak her mind. “It may not be as rational, but isn’t it also possible that the Organization might focus its attention on local resources instead?”

“Such as fuel and metal.”

[That also makes sense,] Serana agrees, shooting you a glance, [Thoughts?]

>I agree with Carlotta on this one.
>I agree with Sabela this time.
>Other?
>>
>>4910552
>I agree with Sabela this time.
>>
>>4910552
>Carlotta has a point, but the Org will have to replace their advanced machinery, so they'll need a port in any case.
>>
>>4910552
>I agree with Sabela this time.
>>
>>4910552
>>Carlotta has a point, but the Org will have to replace their advanced machinery, so they'll need a port in any case.
>>
>>4910552
“I think that Sabela is right,” you decide, “however I also think Carlotta’s not entirely off-base either. I think we can expect the Organization to focus on replacing the machinery they need, however they also need to keep the local resources flowing as well. I also don’t think we should expect them to necessarily act rationally, like any living thing that has been hurt.”

“Treat an organization like a living thing?” Sabela muses. “Interesting, though I’m tempted to disagree with it I can admit I see some merit when the organization in question has a clear hierarchy, in this case one with authoritarian leanings.”

“There must be a place where a port and locally-produced resources are both present,” Carlotta insists.

[We withdraw for now,] Serana suggests, [then consult a map. Consider what we know about Sakia’s economy.]

“I agree,” you nod curtly. “Lucia, Zara, ride ahead for now. At any sign of trouble signal us and we’ll all head in the direction you choose, but the important thing is going to be putting distance between us and where we just were.”
>1/2
>>
>>4911584
After withdrawing to a small crossroads town where there’s an unused barn to shelter in, you begin to draw up a plan by firelight that suits your long-term strategic needs.

“Here,” Sabela decides, tracing the line of a river flowing into Lake Hyviot. “There’s a major operation here in Wicke… I believe it was a coal mine the Organization had its eyes on. I overheard several of their men in a bar speaking with an officer.”

“And out of Lake Hyviot…” Carlotta muses, tracing the map to the coast. “Here, Thurson. A port town on the river.”

[If they were set on fortifying a port…]

“That would be where I would go,” you agree with Serana. “A linkage to the summer palace used by the Crown Prince, a trade route that leads straight to coal, and a deep-water harbor. The perfect combination of features.”

“So that’s the objective?” Zara wonders.

“Unless we want to over-think things,” Lucia muses. “I’m not inclined to question the logic behind this.”

“Nor am I,” you agree.

“So should we focus on the source of coal?” Sabela glances at you, “or the coastal hub?”

“Your position or Carlotta’s,” you translate.

“Honestly…” Carlotta admits, biting her lip. “I’m starting to think Miss Sabela is correct.”

[Being able to change your mind in the face of new evidence is hardly a fault,] Serana insists silently. [Take pride in it.]

>Carlotta can handle Thurson. She seems to have good sense.
>Sabela can go with Carlotta. A coal-mining town is low priority.
>Carlotta can go to Wicke, and Solaris can cover for both spies.
>Other?
>>
>>4911717
>Carlotta can handle Thurson. She seems to have good sense.
>>
>>4911717
>Carlotta can handle Thurson. She seems to have good sense.
>>
>>4911717
>>Carlotta can handle Thurson. She seems to have good sense.
>>
>>4911717
>Carlotta can handle Thurson. She seems to have good sense.
>>
>>4911717
>>Carlotta can handle Thurson. She seems to have good sense.
>>
>>4911717
“Carlotta should be fine in Thurson by herself,” you muse, putting away the map for now. “Sabela, I would like you to visit Wicke – if you find nothing interesting it will be a short trip to Thurson to join Carlotta.”

“I understand,” Carlotta nods curtly. “I won’t let you down.”

With no further objections you ride on until you reach a small town the next night – you can stable your horses and have a modest meal of flatbread, goat’s cheese, and pickled vegetables with rather thin wine. Not watered down you think, just not a wine that was ever particularly full-bodied or flavorful.

“I do have one problem with this plan,” Sabela admits quietly as the others clean the single room you’re sharing after you’ve all had your fill. She gestures to the little belt pouch she keeps her ‘spice’ in. “I would guess that Solaris feels similar concerns.”

You offer her a subtle nod. “I’d almost forgotten... I guess I’ve even started taking this situation for granted.”

“It’s understandable,” she assures you. “But we should come to an agreement for how we will re-supply ourselves while away from Hazari territory.”

“This is a tough situation,” you admit with a frown. “So far from the border, and in a situation where being seen meeting with us would hinder your missions.”

“If only there were friendly territory somewhere between the coast and the south border of Sakia,” your mother muses.

>I think we may be able to work something out. All we need is to win over one village.
>Do we know anyone else within Sakia? A likely awakened being or a wandering warrior?
>I think border outposts are the best we can do at the moment, or else smuggling it in.
>Other?
>>
>>4913002
>>Do we know anyone else within Sakia? A likely awakened being or a wandering warrior?
>>
>>4913002
>Other?
Maybe a local trader can transport some small boxes of spice for us, one that perhaps threatened a king on our behalf.
>>
>>4913002
>Do we know anyone else within Sakia? A likely awakened being or a wandering warrior?
>>
>>4913002
Supporting >>4913140
>>
>>4913002
>>4913140
>>
>>4913002
“The merchants’ guild has always come through for us in the past,” you muse, “and this is hardly an imposition, at least in terms of weight and value. The only question is whether they can still do business on this side of the border.”

“Which we won’t know until we get back to Hazaran,” Zara observes.

You nod in agreement. “Correct. But we could also use this as an excuse to search for any of our fellow warriors who may be wandering in Sakia as strays.”

[The thought did cross my mind,] Serana admits. [It bothers me somewhat that we have heard nothing of such strays, as you call them.]

“Those two things take us in opposite directions,” Sabela reminds you. “And you’re already out here. I understand if you would choose to prioritize searching for other warriors, because it is the same decision I would make.”

“Where would we even begin?” Lucia wonders aloud.

[I would imagine as far away from the invaders as it’s possible to get,] Serana offers.

“Or as close,” Carlotta counters.

>Then it’s settled. We’ll look for other warriors while we’re here, then return to Hazaran.
>There’s no reason we can’t do both. Plenty of people must do business with the guild here.
>We may be able to split our group – send Lawrence a message AND search Sakia for warriors.
>Other?
>>
>>4914580
>>There’s no reason we can’t do both. Plenty of people must do business with the guild here.
>>
>>4914580
>We may be able to split our group – send Lawrence a message AND search Sakia for warriors.
>>
>>4914580
>There’s no reason we can’t do both. Plenty of people must do business with the guild here.
>>
>>4914580
>>There’s no reason we can’t do both. Plenty of people must do business with the guild here.
>>
>>4914580
>We may be able to split our group – send Lawrence a message AND search Sakia for warriors.
>>
>>4914580
“Someone here must do at least a little business with the guild,” you reason, “so it’s just a matter of tracking those contacts up to someone we know we can trust to get the job done.”

[No reason we can’t do that and search for any of our comrades who may be in hiding.]

“That’s exactly what I was thinking.”



You start in the next town along the way east to Thurson, a little fishing village along the coast. Not exactly a thriving center of culture or commerce but it will have to suffice – you have very few actual choices for where to go next. It’s charming in its own way, with little brightly-painted houses with heavy shutters on their windows. Were you a normal person you might find such a cozy little corner of the world to be a lovely place to settle down and just stay out of the world’s way.

But instead, after finding that the nearby lighthouse has rooms to stay in and a place to put your horses, you head back into the village to do a little reconnaissance.

“Where should we go first?” Carlotta wonders aloud, having joined you and your mother as the three least-obvious warriors present. Serana, Lucia, and Zara have all remained in the lighthouse for the time being.

“There should be a market in the village,” you insist, “that I felt like I saw on the way in. Mother? Any insights?”

“There will always be a local alehouse in a place like this,” she observes, “so that would be a good place to pick up rumors of warriors and awakened beings.”

“Awakened beings?” Carlotta repeats nervously. “I mean I know you and Solaris are fine… but are you sure about that?”

“We can’t afford to be picky about our allies anymore,” you decide. “So if we can find an awakened being who will play nicely with our faction that’s great too.”

“Okay,” Carlotta nods. “If you say so… between the two of us you’re the one with any experience.”

“And the only one with experience winning over awakened beings,” Sabela adds. “Both myself and Solaris – for what it is, that is hardly a bad record.”

“I still ended up killing more than I won over,” you admit.

Sabela nods with a smile. “Which is its own skillset, to be fair. I suspect far more awakened beings quite simply aren’t worth your time or effort, though I will also admit that Solaris has come as a lovely surprise.”
>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 1, 5, 2 = 8 (3d10)

>>4917660
>>
>>4917683
FML.
>>
Rolled 5, 7, 3 = 15 (3d10)

>>4917660
>>4917683
Don't worry my man, my addiction to dice shall save us.
>>
Rolled 7, 2, 2 = 11 (3d10)

>>4917660
>>
dice+3d10
>>
Rolled 7, 10, 1 = 18 (3d10)

>>4917660
>>
>>4917660
“So does she know?” you wonder aloud, sitting across from Sabela at a small table at the alehouse by the docks.

After a moment looking over your shoulder at the woman sitting in the corner, your mother offers a nod. “Oh yeah, Noel. She knows.”

“She’s not coming over here,” Carlotta observes.

“No,” Sabela agrees, “but she is staring at Noel’s hair like she’s trying to set fire to it with her eyes.”

It didn’t tale long searching the village to find something out of place – a warrior clearly suppressing her yōki aura with pills… but it’s strange that she’s managed to hide it this well in that manner, and presumably for such a long amount of time. You’d be very interested to know how she managed the feat, but it seems that she recognized your hair from a long ways off and still has made no effort to speak with you.

So really, that tells you all you need to know about her attitudes, even if it doesn’t tell you what she may think she knows about you and what you’ve done recently.

“So… the plan is to talk with her?” Carlotta wonders aloud.

“Maybe not here,” Sabela suggests.

She does have a point – but on the other hand, how likely is she to start a scene here in public if she’s gone to such lengths to disguise herself?

>Go over to her table and sit down. Make it look casual.
>Go over, alone, and ask if she’d like to sit with you instead.
>Leave the alehouse and try to get her to follow you somewhere secluded.
>Other?
>>
>>4919455
>>Go over to her table and sit down. Make it look casual.
>>
>>4919455
>Go over, alone, and ask if she’d like to sit with you instead.
>>
>>4919455
>Go over to her table and sit down. Make it look casual.
>>
>>4919455
>>Go over, alone, and ask if she’d like to sit with you instead.
>>
>>4919455
>Go over to her table and sit down. Make it look casual.
>>
>>4919455
>Go over to her table and sit down alone. Make it look casual, and ask if she’d like to sit with you instead.
>>
>>4919455
>Go over to her table and sit down. Make it look casual
holy shit i read all of this in 3 days. only shadows of zeon left to check out unless you have any other OLD quests from way back at /tg/, King?
>>
>>4919455
“Or maybe here,” you frown, before getting to your feet. “I don’t know. But maybe I will soon.”

The warrior watches you cautiously as you approach her table and sit across from her. She has shoulder-length hair, slightly wavy and a pale blonde, with normal ears and the same pale, smooth skin shared by every warrior you know.

“I suppose you probably know this already,” you greet her, “or at least you suspect it, but my name is Noel Tiberius di Hazaran. Formerly ranked Number Seven. Would you like to come sit with us, or would you like to go somewhere else?”

“Here is fine,” she replies, her tone cool and even. “My name is Fleur, I was a double-digit at the same time as when you were ranked Thirteen.”

“We don’t know each other though?”

“Only by reputation.”

“I see,” you nod. “Are you alone, Fleur?”

“I am now,” she declares. “Four of us formed a hunting party shortly after the Organization fell... we ran afoul of a mob just last month. Hope, Claire, and Kat were all killed by rifle fire. I survived by playing dead.”

You close your eyes and sigh to yourself. “I’m sorry to hear that, though I am happy to find a fellow warrior still alive. I would assume many of us are now in hiding, particularly any unfortunate enough to be stuck in Sakia at the moment.”

“You’re probably right,” Fleur agrees. “So, what do you think happens next?”

“That depends on you,” you reply calmly. “I won’t pretend to know what you must have been through since the Organization disappeared, so I won’t presume to know what you might want now.”

After a moment’s reflection, Fleur frowns. “I am not certain. If you were to make a suggestion what would it be?”

>Come with us to Scaithness. Any warrior is welcome to join us.
>At least leave Sakia with us. Where you go after that is up to you.
>Help us find other survivors, while we have the opportunity.
>Other?
>>
>>4920690
>Other?
Wake up from this nightmare. Automatic guns? Fleets of ships? Kings and queens? This clearly isn't Claymore.
>>
>>4920690
>>At least leave Sakia with us. Where you go after that is up to you.


>>4920717
This is what happens when you need a new lab site after you last one rebelled hard. Unsurprisingly instead of starting from scratch and a low tech base human developed, which means you're having a harder start up now.
>>
>>4920690
>>Come with us to Scaithness. Any warrior is welcome to join us.
>>At least leave Sakia with us. Where you go after that is up to you.
>>4920377
He has a Kancolle quest he doesn't talk about much
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Paradise%20Arsenal
>>
>>4920690
>At least leave Sakia with us. Where you go after that is up to you.
And debrief her for information on the way.
>>
>>4920690
>Come with us to Scaithness. Any warrior is welcome to join us.
>>
>>4920690
>>Come with us to Scaithness. Any warrior is welcome to join us.
>>
>>4920690
>At least leave Sakia with us. Where you go after that is up to you.
>>
>>4920690
“You’d be welcome to join us,” you offer, “but at very least you could come with us when we leave Sakia. Where you go from the border is entirely up to you.”

Fleur’s eyes narrow slightly. “That easy? Forgive me if I have my doubts.”

“No tricks,” you insist, “no traps, and no obligations. You don’t like the feel of our faction and you’re free to leave. I’ll even dip into the state funds to set you on your way.”

“You’re being serious?” she continues to stare at you.

You nod. “That’s the thing... I’m almost always serious.”

“I don’t have time to think about this, do I?”

“Not particularly, no.”

“Then I will accept your help as far as the border with Sakia,” she decides. “I’ll decide how far I go with you at that point.”

...

You have to be very careful not to let anyone in the village know that you’re meeting afterwards, or else it might give you away as being connected with a silver-eyed warrior. If you’re careful it could simply be written off as a casual contact to any onlookers, though you’ve told Carlotta in particular that she’ll have to be careful to make sure that she isn’t identified once she reaches Thurson.

“So these are the rest of your merry band?”

You gesture to the others. “Merry band, Fleur. Fleur, merry band.”

“I’ve heard of her,” Zara admits. “Offensive type, right?”

Fleur nods. “That’s right. Who are you?”

“Zara,” you gesture. “Lucia, Serana...”

“The former single-digit?” Fleur wonders aloud. “So this is where you went?]

Serana glances at you. [Not in the mood.]

“What was that?” Fleur glances at you as well.

“Serana says she’s not in the mood for small-talk, sorry,” you translate. “Her throat was badly damaged in a fight with Ella.”

Serana draws her fingers across her throat for emphasis.
>1/2
>>
>>4921900
“And you can understand her?”

“Most of us can,” Lucia replies calmly. “It takes a while, but it’s worth it.”

“I’m still learning,” Carlotta admits.

You can tell that Fleur has to bite her tongue before she makes some unfortunate comment about Carlotta. “Sorry.”

“I used to get that a lot,” Carlotta admits.

“Not anymore?”

She shakes her head. “No, not really. There were a few of us... miss Noel had us all trained as spies.”

“They’re really good,” you insist. “They took to it pretty quickly.”

“And... you would be?” Fleur turns her attention to Sabela.

>My mother, Sabela.
>An Abyssal One, Sabela.
>My mother Sabela, a former number One.
>An associate you will get to know if you come to Scaithness.
>Other?
>>
>>4921906
>>My mother, Sabela.
>>
>>4921906
>My mother, Sabela.
>>
>>4921906
>My mother, Sabela.
>>
>>4921906
>My mother, Sabela.
>>
>>4921906
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 10, 1, 1 = 12 (3d10)

>>4922502
>>
Rolled 8, 1, 7 = 16 (3d10)

>>4922502
>>
Rolled 1, 4, 6 = 11 (3d10)

>>4922502
24 in captcha, 24 in the dice?
>>
>>4922502
“This is my mother, Sabela,” you make the introduction.

“Sabela,” Fleur repeats, furrowing her brow. “Sabela... your mother shares her name with one of the Abyssal Ones?”

“No,” your mother shakes her head calmly. “That Sabela and I are one and the same.”

Fleur immediately takes a step back and raises her fists. “You would ally yourself with... your mother?”

“You’re already beginning to understand the complexity of the situation,” Sabela muses. “That’s good. And the answer is yes, I awakened before I had Noel.”

“That’s...” Fleur stares in shock. “Disturbing.”

“You know how deer sometimes chew on bones to get minerals they need?” you ask. “Or how they lick rock salt?”

“Vaguely,” Fleur replies, still staring.

“Well, the Abyssals are kind of the same,” you explain. “Except the nutrient they need can be found in two places – in a certain species of cave mushroom or in the human intestines.”

“Once you start growing those mushrooms reliably, the finished product looks a bit like seasoned salt,” Sabela adds. “I sprinkle it on my food. Same as the other awakened being who fights alongside Noel and the others.”

“How many awakened beings are you living in close proximity to?” Fleur presses.

“Just the two,” you reply. “Unsurprisingly most awakened beings aren’t exactly open to the idea.”

[Or sane, even.]

“That too.”

“You’ve tried this with multiple awakened beings?” Fleur demands. “Heavens above why would you do that?”

>Because the outcome SHOULD concern all of us.
>Because this is my mother we’re talking about.
>Because I’ll take the help wherever I can get it.
>Other?
>>
>>4922823
>Because the outcome SHOULD concern all of us.

I would imagine that there's awakened beings that would do anything to not have to eat people to survive.
>>
>>4922823
>Because not every AB wants to eat humans, and the vast majority of Awakenings are orchestrated by the Organization. Looking for alternatives for them and offering them the choice is the right thing to do.
>>
>>4922868
Support.
>>
>>4922868
>>4922823
>>
>>4922823
>>4922868
>>4922868
this
>>
>>4922823
Supporting >>4922868
>>
>>4922823
>Because the outcome SHOULD concern all of us.
>>
>>4922823
“We rarely get offered a choice,” you admit, “and I hate that. So when I know I can offer them one I feel like I have to at least try. Especially now that we know how many of their awakenings were actively encouraged by the Organization.”

“... what do you mean?” Fleur presses.

“You don’t think that the Organization got a hold of my daughter purely by happenstance?” Sabela shakes her head in disbelief. “You don’t find it strange that twins aren’t used for warriors anymore?”

“The Organization has been experimenting with us,” you clarify. “I’m a particularly interesting subject to them for reasons you already know.”

“So how do you know that she’s not lying to you,” Fleur demands, gesturing to Sabela, “or using you the same way as the Organization?”

>I don’t. That’s where ‘trust’ part comes in.
>Because she’s had plenty of chances to betray us.
>I don’t fully trust her. But I’m giving her a chance.
>Other?
>>
>>4924914
>I don’t. That’s where ‘trust’ part comes in.
>>
>>4924914
>I don’t. That’s where ‘trust’ part comes in.
>Because she’s had plenty of chances to betray us.
>>
>>4924914
>I don’t. That’s where ‘trust’ part comes in.
>>
>>4924914
>>I don’t. That’s where ‘trust’ part comes in.
>but frankly if she was, she'd have left me and mien to die to the other Abyssal ones when the organization sent us sans black cards into a suicide mission with newbies.
>>
>>4924914
“I don’t,” you confess. “That’s why we have this thing called ‘trust’ – and so far she’s done nothing to betray mine.”

Sabela raises her hand, rather sheepishly. “I… did at one point want her to help kill me.”

Fleur stares in disbelief. “What?”

“I’m as fast and as strong as the other Abyssals,” your mother explains, “but my specialized ability is actually my regenerative powers – faster and more complete than any other case I know of. I can perfectly regenerate my whole body in seconds… from just a fingertip if I have to.”

“So you thought it would be better if you didn’t exist?”

Sabela nods curtly. “Yes, and I’ll admit it was selfish and self-pitying of me. I’m glad it never came to that, especially since it means my daughter won’t have to live with the guilt of killing her own mother.”

“Are you still going to follow us as far as the border?” you press. “We need your answer.”



After agreeing to continue with your plan, you all go your separate ways. You don’t want anyone to see you and think that Carlotta or Sabela are with the surviving silver-eyed warriors, or else it may make their objectives more difficult to achieve. But you do travel eastward to continue shadowing Carlotta – you’ll ideally be able to observe her as she settles in for her next assignment, then do the same check on Sabela to the south.

>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 3, 1, 2 = 6 (3d10)

>>4926321
>>
Rolled 8, 9, 1, 2 = 20 (4d10)

>>4926321
>>
Rolled 5, 7, 7 = 19 (3d10)

>>4926345
>>4926321
derp
Corrected roll
>>
Rolled 9, 7, 9 = 25 (3d10)

>>4926352
>>4926321
An excellent correction.
>>
Rolled 10, 10, 10 = 30 (3d10)

>>4926321
>>
>>4926477
A highlight in a rough week for me.
>>
>>4926477
Nice job, anon.
>>
>>4926477
Someone take a picture!
>>
>>4926477
Goddamn
>>
>>4926477
Bruh.
>>
>>4926477
Holy shit
>>
>>4926321
You follow along until you reach the outskirts of Thurson, where you find a hillside that you can set up below. Not right on top of the hill of course, but below the crest and behind a massive gorse shrub that will shield you from view. This way you can remain hidden and not find yourselves back-lit along the ridgeline.

Hidden in the gorse with your horses, you spend two full days monitoring Carlotta’s safety from a distance. She obviously settles in quickly, finding some sort of work to integrate herself into her new surroundings as quickly as possible, to give her some sort of proverbial fig leaf while she gathers information. But something does feel... off. It takes a while to realize what it is.

“There’s an awakened being hiding in that town,” you sigh.

Zara nods once. “That’s what I think. She was so well-hidden I wasn't sure if it was something 'real' or not.”

“An awakened being,” Fleur repeats. “Perhaps a chance to see how your little faction engages with this situation?”

[It’s a possibility.]

“Partly we need to know who it is,” Sabela insists curtly.

“And you’re the one who would know,” Lucia sighs. “Of course.”

“That’s right,” Sabela nods. “Sorry if that’s inconvenient, but that’s all there is to it.”

“So we would need to get you in there,” you decide. “In order to identify the awakened being down there?”

“Yes.”

“Can you at least rule out the possibility that it’s Ella, Constanzia, Rafaela, or Salem?” you press.

Sabela shuts her eyes, and takes a few slow, deep breaths. “I believe I can. It certainly isn’t Constanzia or Rafaela, and Ella lacks the patience for hiding. But there is a small chance that it could be Salem.”

[If it is Salem, how bad is it?] Serana signs quickly and quietly.

“It could be worse,” Sabela admits. “She may not be a prime candidate for an alliance, but she isn’t completely insane. There’s a reason she and Ella can’t stand each other.”

>Then I think there’s no reason we can’t poke around town, identify this awakened being in hiding.
>We should withdraw Carlotta and leave this one alone. Too many things could go horribly wrong.
>Sabela, we’ll be counting on you. Return with the information and we can make a decision together.
>Other?
>>
>>4927640
>Sabela, we’ll be counting on you. Return with the information and we can make a decision together.
>>
>>4927640
>Sabela, we’ll be counting on you. Return with the information and we can make a decision together.
>>
>>4927640
>>Sabela, we’ll be counting on you. Return with the information and we can make a decision together.
>>
>>4927640
>Sabela, we’ll be counting on you. Return with the information and we can make a decision together.
>>
>>4927640
>>Sabela, we’ll be counting on you. Return with the information and we can make a decision together.
in mom we trust
>>
>>4927640
>Sabela, we’ll be counting on you. Return with the information and we can make a decision together.
>>
>>4927640
“Then we’ll be counting on you to determine whether that’s Salem in town or not,” you decide. “When you return with that information we can make a decision together. Please be careful, even if you are nearly impossible to kill.”

“Always,” Sabela nods with a smile. “I think I’d like to head in after dark. I have no idea whether the awakened being we’re looking for is the type who can sense while suppressing their yōki, so I can only guess as to whether she knows we’re here. But I at least know that their guards won’t be able to see me in the dark, and there’s little sense in not using that to my advantage.”

[If she could sense us wouldn’t she have reacted by now?] Serana wonders.

Your mother shrugs. “That depends. She could be so arrogant she assumes that we haven’t noticed her, or confident enough that she thinks she doesn’t have to care.”

“There’s always a third option of course,” you muse. “She may actually be unaware that we’re here.”

“Agreed,” Sabela nods, “though I would find that more likely with a lower-ranked awakened being.”
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 6, 10, 9 = 25 (3d10)

>>4930131
>>
Rolled 2, 1, 6 = 9 (3d10)

>>4930174
>>4930131
g
>>
Rolled 7, 10, 4 = 21 (3d10)

>>4930131
>>
>>4930131
Sabela is gone for almost an hour that night, before slinking back through the dark to find you hidden among the gorse.

Serana traces her question onto your shoulder in the darkness, since you elected not to light a fire for the evening. “What did you find?”

“Something I don’t know what to make of,” your mother admits, her tone one of either disbelief, disapproval, or a mix of the two. “That was indeed Salem, and she wants to speak with you.”

There’s a long pause. “With me? Not with you?”

“With you,” Sabela confirms.

“I don’t trust that,” Zara insists flatly.

“I don’t think anyone here could,” Lucia agrees.

“Do you think this is some sort of trap?” you ask.

After a moment, Sabela shakes her head. “I doubt it. What purpose would it serve?”

>So come in with me, we’ll have a discussion with Salem.
>I’m not sure that’s a good idea. What do you think?
>I can go alone. It’d show both good faith and confidence.
>Other?
>>
>>4930313
>So come in with me, we’ll have a discussion with Salem.
>>
>>4930313
>So come in with me, we’ll have a discussion with Salem.
>>
>>4930313
>>So come in with me, we’ll have a discussion with Salem.
>>
>>4930313
>So come in with me, we’ll have a discussion with Salem.
>>
>>4930313
>So come in with me, we’ll have a discussion with Salem.
>>
>>4930313
>>So come in with me, we’ll have a discussion with Salem.
>>
>>4930313
>So come in with me, we’ll have a discussion with Salem.
>>
>>4930313
“Then come with me and we’ll have a discussion,” you offer.

After considering it for a moment, Sabela nods in agreement. “I don’t think that was what she intended, but she also didn’t say explicitly that she wanted to meet with you alone either. So I agree, that would be the safest thing. Maybe not the most productive however.”

[That won’t be a problem so long as it is not counter-productive,] Serana traces her thoughts onto your arm with her fingertip.

“And me getting killed would be that,” you sigh. “Even if she stormed off in a huff we’d be neither better nor worse off than before.”



You follow Sabela, who scouted the best route into town before when she snuck in the first time. It’s fairly easy to evade the guards, since the Organization’s faction has yet to reinforce the defenses in such a way that would keep line of sight clearer. She takes you towards the source of yōki, which turns out to be located in a modest-looking home on a narrow lot along a side road, complete with a little garden out front. Mostly culinary herbs from the smell.

Sabela opens the door without knocking, and you step inside.

There’s a sitting room, with small windows hidden behind drapes that face out onto the road and the little herb garden. Ordinarily at least – at the moment the drapes have been pulled. And in that sitting room you find a lone figure, sitting at a low table.

“Please take a seat,” Salem insists politely. “Will you have anything to drink?”

“Not at the moment, thank you,” you reply, taking a seat in what looks to be a handmade chair. “So you are Salem?”

The black-haired woman in front of you nods once. “I am.”

“Your eyes give you away,” you admit. “Not just their silver color, but the intensity of your gaze. There’s something inhuman in them.”

“I suppose I should have anticipated such perception,” Salem replies calmly. “Sabela, please. Join us.”

After a moment, Sabela seats herself at the low table as well.

“Now then,” Salem muses, “I should say this much right now – Sabela, I have no intentions of shackling myself to a tenuous supply of some ‘miracle herb’ grown in another nation. However, I do feel that we are in an unusual position, so I wish to discuss some things with you and with your daughter as possible allies.”
>1/2
>>
>>4931604
“What ‘things’ would you like to talk about, Salem?” you ask.

“We have several common enemies,” Salem insists with a calm smile. “The Organization, Ella and her little faction of miscreants, as well as that dullard Constanzia and her smartass sister. Between myself, Sabela and Solaris, the Silver-eyed Queen of Hazaran, and the witch-warriors of Scaithness... that should be enough to crush any one at a time with reasonable comfort. All of them at once if they don’t band together properly.”

“You want our help killing your enemies?” you frown.

“And your own enemies,” Salem observes. “I can do things that you, in good conscience, cannot. I can go to extremes that you would never consider. I would gladly murder my own sister too for that matter.”

>We can cooperate against Ella, Constancia, and Rafaela. Not against humans however.
>I propose communication and information-sharing only as a reasonable compromise.
>What happens after our shared enemies are all defeated? Do we then become enemies?
>We can offer you a starter to grow your own ‘spice’ if you can’t bring yourself to trust us.
>Other?
>>
>>4931622
>What happens after our shared enemies are all defeated? Do we then become enemies?
>>
>>4931622
>What happens after our shared enemies are all defeated? Do we then become enemies?
>Other?
Offer generous terms for the spice. She can always refuse to buy the spice and eat humans whenever she wants.
>>
>>4931687
What? Aren't we giving out the spice for free already? And I'm objecting to any deal that allows ABs to continue eating humans.
>>
>>4931622
>>What happens after our shared enemies are all defeated? Do we then become enemies?
>>
>>4931622
>What happens after our shared enemies are all defeated? Do we then become enemies?
>We can offer you a starter to grow your own ‘spice’ if you can’t bring yourself to trust us.
>>
>>4931622
>>What happens after our shared enemies are all defeated? Do we then become enemies?
>>We can offer you a starter to grow your own ‘spice’ if you can’t bring yourself to trust us.
>>
>>4931622
>What happens after our shared enemies are all defeated? Do we then become enemies?
>We can offer you a starter to grow your own ‘spice’ if you can’t bring yourself to trust us.

We should throw in information sharing in there too but more as an idea or for a "generous deal".

I am not worried to much about the AB factions teaming up against us, but what if they decide to attack our people or country in retaliation? They might not be able to get us, but they can get the people below us.
>>
>>4931851
>>4931622
agreed, Salem sounds civilised, but with a hint of being unhinged, i don't trust her.
>>
>>4931622
>What happens after our shared enemies are all defeated? Do we then become enemies?
>We can offer you a starter to grow your own ‘spice’ if you can’t bring yourself to trust us.
>>
>>4931622
“So let’s say for a moment that we’ve wiped out our shared enemies,” you begin. “What happens then? We can’t ally ourselves with any being that feeds on humans, especially not after being presented with an alternative.”

“And you’ve presented me with the alternative,” Salem reasons with a nod. “Is what you’re trying to tell me.”

“We can offer you a starter to produce your own ‘spice’ locally,” you offer, “wherever you choose to live.”

“Is that so?” she muses. “Well, discussions like this are all about the back-and-forth, aren’t they? So let me make a counterproposal – if you help me kill my bitch of a sister first, then I can seriously entertain your offer of this ‘spice’, whatever it happens to actually be.”

“And if you decline after that?” Sabela frowns. “Come on, Salem. We all know you’re smart enough to realize that would put us right back at the question my daughter just raised.”

“In that scenario, which I have trouble envisioning at the moment,” Salem admits, “I would probably be trusting enough of all of you to at least try this alternate solution of yours.”

“A transaction cost,” as you choose to phrase it. “Prerequisite to forming a lasting partnership.”

“You’ve been talking with that merchant too much,” your mother sighs. “You can do better.”

“What, like a king?” you frown. “You got the last good one.”

“Probably true. I make no apologies.”

“So,” Salem muses, “will you accept my terms? Or would you like to make a counter-offer?”

>You have a deal. We all kill Ella, then we talk terms about a lasting alliance.
>No deal. Right now the Organization’s return is of more pressing concern to us.
>Other (Continue Negotiations with a Counter-Offer)
>>
>>4933064
>“You’ve been talking with that merchant too much,” your mother sighs. “You can do better.”
HA!
>You have a deal. We all kill Ella, then we talk terms about a lasting alliance.
>>
>>4933064
>>Other (Continue Negotiations with a Counter-Offer)
>Can we afford to deal with Ella before the invaders who have landed and allied with Sakia? The ones with technology on a level only matched by the Organization's secret port?
>>
>>4933064
>You have a deal. We all kill Ella, then we talk terms about a lasting alliance.
>>
>“You’ve been talking with that merchant too much,” your mother sighs. “You can do better.”

>“What, like a king?” you frown. “You got the last good one.”

>“Probably true. I make no apologies.”

Dammit mom.
>>
>>4933064
>Other (Continue Negotiations with a Counter-Offer)
Throw in information sharing and mutual co-operation against the invaders if possible.
>>
>>4933064
>You have a deal. We all kill Ella, then we talk terms about a lasting alliance.
>>
>>4933064
>You have a deal. We all kill Ella, then we talk terms about a lasting alliance.
>>
>>4933064
“Then if we help you kill Ella, we can discuss a permanent alliance against the Organization,” you lay out what you understand to be the current reasoning. “That is the arrangement?”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Salem confirms. "So how would you like to act on this deal?"

"It's all a question of timing," you admit.

>We can’t afford to distract ourselves from the Organization. Once that has been dealt with we can deal with Ella.
>How about we skip ahead a little – kill Ella while also maneuvering against the Organization?
>We can kill Ella while the Organization is still off-balance from having lost their toehold to the west.
>Other?
>>
>>4934640
>Can we perhaps get the Organization to try to kill Ella for us? Whoever loses, we win.
>>
>>4934640
>>We can kill Ella while the Organization is still off-balance from having lost their toehold to the west.
>>
>>4934640
>update tomorrow due to unexpected delays
>>
>>4934640
>We can kill Ella while the Organization is still off-balance from having lost their toehold to the west.
>>
>>4934640
>>4934674
>>
>>4934640
>>We can kill Ella while the Organization is still off-balance from having lost their toehold to the west.
this is probably not the time to fight on multiple fronts
>>
>>4934640
“Then we’ll form a hunting party,” you decide, “just four of us. Sabela, Salem, myself, and Serana.”

“Serana?” Sabela repeats.

“She has a score to settle,” you frown, “and I’d never hear the end of it if I left her out. The rest of our faction really does need to secure our borders and our stronghold, just for the time being, as a hedge against the Organization. Lucia and Zara can take Carlotta back to Gina’s location, join with her and Solaris for the time being and continue gathering information.”

You’re not entirely sure how you feel about picking this fight, but you know that you’re going to have to at very least put the question to Serana and give her the opportunity. And so you do that as soon as you return to her with the promise that you’ll meet Salem first thing in the morning whether Serana agrees or not.

[Salem, mother, and I are killing Ella,] you tell her calmly. [How do you feel about joining us? There is no...]

Serana’s answer is immediate and emphatic. [When do we leave?]

[You don’t have to come with us.]

[I won’t let you go without me,] she insists crossly. [You would do the same for me. My mind is made up.]

“Then what are we going to do?” Zara asks.

“I want you and Lucia to escort Carlotta back to where Gina is,” you tell her. “Keep each other safe, and work with Solaris. Keep gathering information, and we’ll return for you once we’ve dealt with Ella.”

Zara raises her hand in a quick salute.

“Be careful, you two,” Lucia nods calmly.

...

The next morning, a misty and dim morning blanketed with a thick and clinging fog from the sea, you meet with Salem as arranged. You may be somewhat insensate towards the cold, but you’re sensing a distinct chill to the air.

“So this is Serana,” Salem muses. “Pleased to meet you.”

Serana glances at you. [Tell her that if any harm comes to you I will...]

You watch as Serana finishes her threat.

“What did she say?” Salem asks.

“I... don’t feel like repeating the threat verbatim,” you confess, “but suffice it to say there will be consequences if I get hurt.”

“Such loyalty!” Salem muses.

>So you intend to take the lead on this, right Salem? She’s your sister after all.
>Mother – Serana and I could use your support when we face Ella
>I intend to awaken as fully as possible. Serana, you stick close to me, okay?
>Other?
>>
>>4937306
>I intend to awaken as fully as possible. Serana, you stick close to me, okay?
>>
>>4937306
>So you intend to take the lead on this, right Salem? She’s your sister after all.
>>
>>4937306
>>I intend to awaken as fully as possible. Serana, you stick close to me, okay?
>>
>>4937306
>I intend to awaken as fully as possible. Serana, you stick close to me, okay?
>>
>>4937306
>>So you intend to take the lead on this, right Salem? She’s your sister after all.
>>
>>4937306
“I don’t think this is going to be a fight where we can start slow,” you admit with a frown. “So I intend to awaken to the absolute limit of what I can sustain. Serana, I’m afraid I have to ask you to fight well outside your comfort zone.”

After a moment, Serana nods. [I understand this is part of it.]

“Good,” you smile. “We’ll just have to look after each other, okay?”

[Okay,] she eventually smiles back. [My life is in your hands again. Please do not hesitate to put your life in mine, I won’t allow anything to happen to you.]

“This is all very touching I think,” Salem frowns, “at least from the half of it I heard. But it’s a long ways to where Ella’s made her citadel. I’d like to get going.”

Following Salem, who seems deeply impatient to get started, your mother offers a slight bow.

“I will protect you both with my life if need be,” she declares. “Let me take the hits for you whenever I can.”

“If you insist, mother,” you agree hesitantly. “Don’t overdo it, okay?”

“No promises,” she admits.
>tbc