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LAST TIME, ON DRAGON SLAYER QUEST
Your name is Noah Lee - straight B- student, scrawny runt, and lover of old ballroom dance vinyls. After a chance encounter during detention, you discovered that you possess the mystical "Type O-alpha" blood-type, which marks you as...

Monster bait. No cool powers. No "chosen one" status. But apparently, if you bleed around the wrong people, they will explode into gigantic, reality-warping monsters known as "Dragons" and immediately try to kill you. Silver lining! Surviving a Dragon attack gave you magic powers - "Alchemy", the ability to enforce your intent on the world and reshape matter and energy.

After a fraught encounter with your teacher, who burst into a Dragon and attempted to kill you, you were saved by Kendra Shields (call her Ken), a gruff, battle-worn two-star Slayer for the Fraternal Order Of Dragon Slayers (FOODS), and became her apprentice in order to learn enough so that you could defend yourself from Dragons.

And boy, have you had... a month.

What started as, you know, the beginning of your new life as "someone who can do magic and is being hunted down by Dragons" rapidly escalated to one of the most dizzying two weeks or so in your life so far. Bloody combat, the advances of confusing girls, threats to have your testicles removed, Literal Magic (against the insistence of one Dr. Hyde of FOODS who claims very strongly that Alchemy is a science), and a potential seizure disorder that you've yet to get diagnosed adequately. Not to mention a Three-star (that's high) Dragon on the run, slowly healing, with a grudge against you specifically!

Whew, who knew being a teenager was this hard?
>>
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Thankfully, but perhaps somewhat uncomfortably, the city streets are being patrolled by a dual contingent of FOODS officers invisible to normals and members of l ordine dei cavalieri di San Benedetto di Norcia (l'Ordine), the Vatican's personal Dragon-slaying unit. This includes the conveniently named Father Benedict, with whom you have shared several uncomfortable conversations, considering he feels the need to try and talk to you about God and sin at every available opportunity when you bump into him, and his goons, none of whom are nearly quite as talkative, perhaps thankfully.

You've yet to see a demonstration of Father Benedict and l'Ordine's skills, but the reaction from everyone at FOODS is "become scared shitless", so evidently, there is a reputation there. And as for Pandora, the loose coalition of rogue ex-FOODS members looking to humanely capture Dragons? Well... to say you haven't seen hide nor hair of them wouldn't be exactly accurate - you've definitely caught Ronin, one of their field operatives, watching over you when you go out on a walk at night every so often.

You're still having strange dreams, of course. Strange dreams in abundance, with Jason's sister (name still unknown - you haven't exactly sought her out) playing a similarly abundant role in it. Occasionally, you see a bulky, bearded figure, wreathed in smoke, and the dream feels abundantly more uncomfortable than before, although you can never place who he is when you wake up. But, at least you haven't had any more seizures, which is great! You really don't like having seizures.
>>
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There are, of course, things to look forward to in your life. Even if you don't end up working for FOODS, Chief Grey's hefty commission for the putting away of the Homunculus (a sort of alchemically created soulless human-automata) has you seeing dollar signs in your eyes, and your mom didn't question anything when twenties started appearing in her wallet. You think she noticed, because you think your mom knows almost everything there is to know, because she's your mom, but she hasn't said anything about it and probably won't. Plus, Homecoming is coming up soon, and even though you usually just go stag with Josh and hide in the corner, you feel a welling surge of confidence that's been steadily growing inside you over the past month, combined with a general anxiety of being attacked at any moment.

It's an odd mixture of feelings.

WEEK ONE OF FAST-FORWARD: Pick two from the following list
>Work out and practice combat with Ken
>Focus on your studies, keep those grades up
>Study from your forbidden tome of illegal alchemy
>Focus on relaxing so you don't have some kind of mental breakdown
>Do some independent investigation on the local Dragon and Mysterious Figure Handing Out Magic Pills situation
>Shadow Dr. Hyde to learn proper, non-illegal Medical Alchemy
>Free Option.
>>
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GLOSSARY OF TERMS
https://pastebin.com/ipHuwpgL

CHARACTER LISTING
https://pastebin.com/Ff8GHEgg

LISTING ON SUPTG
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Dragon%20Slayer%20Quest

PREVIOUS THREAD
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/4843024/

If you're enjoying the quest, your upvotes are greatly appreciated, but not at all required
>>
Noah's Dossier
Physical Health: Decent
Mental Health: Middling
Strength: Poor
Agility: Mediocre

Grades: Mediocre
Intelligence: Middling

Pneuma Reserves: Excellent
Pneuma Control: Poor
Alchemical Sense: Excellent

Alchemical Styles
Forge Alchemy - Level 1
Mobility Alchemy - Level 1
Architectural Alchemy - Level 1
Biomedical Alchemy (Forbidden) - Level 1
>>
>>4894469
>Shadow Dr. Hyde to learn proper, non-illegal Medical Alchemy
>Focus on relaxing so you don't have some kind of mental breakdown
>>
>>4894469
>Focus on your studies, keep those grades up
>Shadow Dr. Hyde to learn proper, non-illegal Medical Alchemy
>>
>>4894469
>Work out and practice combat with Ken
>Focus on relaxing so you don't have some kind of mental breakdown
>>
>>4894469
>Shadow Dr. Hyde to learn proper, non-illegal Medical Alchemy
>Work out and practice combat with Ken
Working up a sweat is good for mental health right? Not speaking from experience.
>>
Rolling for tiebreakers in a couple of hours and then we'll be continuing on.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d2)

>Shadow Dr. Hyde to learn proper, non-illegal Medical Alchemy
is locked in


>Focus on relaxing so you don't have some kind of mental breakdown
is 1

>Work out and practice combat with Ken
is 2
>>
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(1/2)
>>4897170
You spend a couple of days after school shadowing Dr. Hyde, after bugging him enough times that he decides to finally let you, of course. In your mind, learning "proper" medical Alchemy will let you do more to heal people with less, and on the off chance that the biomedical Alchemy is the thing giving you your weird dreams and seizures, well, the less you use that, the better.

Somewhat surprisingly, Dr. Hyde is a very, almost uncomfortably serious person when he's actively involved in his work - from your couple of hours spent, you get the feeling that his happy-go-lucky face to you during your examination was more for your benefit than his. When he's not seeing a patient, or eating snacks, his nose is stuck in an old, tattered looking textbook on medical Alchemy, flipping between that and the latest in general medical research on his computer.

As he explains to you, the better you understand the scientific principles of a topic, whether that's neurology, pharmacology, or more mundane sciences like chemistry and physics, the better you can perform Alchemy of that type - and since his focus is on healing people, knowing the latest science behind the human body's function is essential for his job.

"It's like, in the olden days, they didn't have our sort of science to go off of, so they went with the science that made sense to them - what they called alchemy. Or, if you were a priest or something, you used your faith in God. It's all about your understanding of the world and how it fits into your schema. If you believe that lightning is God throwing spears at you, and you want to use Alchemy to summon lightning, you'll have to think of yourself as God, too. If you know it's just a physical reaction caused by electrical charge in the air, it's still hard as hell, but it's a hell of a lot more doable." He explains to you while you flip through pages of his textbook. "If my model of the world included facts like "people getting better or worse from sickness is up to God's grace", well, then I couldn't really do my job. I'm not God. I can't bestow grace on shit. But I can give you tea with enough alchemically modified caffeine to knock out any migraine in the world, because I know how caffeine works."

You nod thoughtfully. "How does that all work with the rubberband effect, actually? If I'm drinking tea, don't you need to be holding onto the tea for it to effect me?"
>>
>>4897295
"Great question, actually." Hyde replies, leaning back into his chair while you talk in between patients. "Basically, the rubberband effect isn't instantaneous. You're right in that a rookie mistake is making your effect the potency it needs to be as it goes down, but if it's something like a medicine, or a liquid or a food, you basically have to put in way more than you think you'll need so that by the time the body absorbs it in a couple of seconds it's where it's supposed to be." He explains, adjusting his glasses and then coughing. "It's a real delicate art, and is part of why most of our first aid focuses on things like gauze, bandages, splints, and casts, as opposed to medication. There's not a lot of Alchemical doctors who can actually handle medication. I might not seem it from my bumbling and unassuming exterior, but I'm pretty rare in that regard."

"I thought most medication takes more than a couple of seconds to get absorbed, right?" You ask.

Hyde grins back at you. "Not if you're an alchemist, it doesn't."

The rest of your shadowing with Hyde is similarly informative, and by the end, he even quizzes you a little bit like a proper teacher. You can tell he likes having someone else around to ramble to.

You've advanced your skill in First Aid Alchemy to Level 1!
>>
>>4897297
alright, time to fart bandages and piss antibiotic paste
>>
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(2/2)
>>4895572
>>4895672
What days you don't spend getting at least a little bit of R&R time in are spent working out with Ken and working on your physical constitution. Ken is absolutely a brooding sort of individual, but recently she's seemed a lot more brooding than usual, and you can't get a read on why.

Still, she doesn't let it get in the way of teaching you like she said she would a couple of weeks ago. Instead of focusing on Alchemy, she runs you roughshod like a personal trainer, telling you that no amount of Alchemy can make up for a weak body in a life or death situation. You think to yourself quietly that you aren't sure if that's exactly true, and then decide not to actually say that part out loud.

Every day is a little different. You're almost always jogging, but she rotates you through muscles. One day, you focus on legs, after that, arms, and after that, your stomach. Since you're insistent on using a spear, on the second day of working out, she brings you a track & field javelin and absolutely refuses to tell you where she got it from - you suspect she stole it from your high school's track & field supply shed.

Your aim does not get any better in a way that you can notice, but Ken does approve of your performance. At the very least, the approval feels nice, even though the harsh workout makes you stumble your way through gym class the next day. If there's an improvement in your ability to hold and use a spear, you can't tell - your arms are too sore to hold heavy things for very long.

By the time the weekend rolls around, you're completely wiped, enough to the point that your mom has started to notice on the rare occasions the two of you are face to face.

"Is everything alright, dear?" She asks, Saturday afternoon, when you come home all sweaty and panting like a dog in the summertime. Your entire body feels like it's been hit by a mack truck, and it's definitely satisfying, a comfortable sort of soreness, but, well, it also feels like you've been hit by a mack truck. "Jogging too much?"

"Working out with a friend." You tell her, as she grabs you a Gatorade from the fridge and you chug it down with a ferocity previously unseen. She smiles at you like she's proud of you, and you feel a little better as you stumble your way up the stairs to pass out.

WEEK TWO OF FAST-FORWARD: Pick two from the following list
>Work out with Ken more.
>>>Try to figure out what's wrong, if anything.
>>>Leave her be to sort out her own shit, she probably wouldn't want you nosing in.
>Shadow Dr. Hyde some more, see what else he can teach you
>You spent some time on your body, focus on your studies now.
>Study from your forbidden tome of illegal alchemy
>Take some "you" time so you don't burn yourself out.
>Do some independent investigation on the local Dragon and Mysterious Figure Handing Out Magic Pills situation.
>Spend some time by your lonesome theorycrafting and practicing your alchemy. (Pick a Style)
>Free Option.
>>
Oh, fuck me, formatting errors.
>>
>>4897307
>Work out with Ken more.
>>>Try to figure out what's wrong, if anything.
>You spent some time on your body, focus on your studies now.
>>
>>4897307
>>Study from your forbidden tome of illegal alchemy
>You spent some time on your body, focus on your studies now.
Kinda want to check out pandora, but maybe not at the same time as poking in the book
>>
>>4897307
>Work out with Ken more.
>Try to figure out what's wrong, if anything.
>>
(1/2)
>>4897678
>>4897334
>>4897322
>You spent some time on your body, focus on your studies now.

While it would certainly be nice, prudent even to stick around with Dr. Hyde for another week, you definitely feel like you have a solid enough grasp on the basics to make use of First Aid alchemy if necessary, and your homework, so thoughtfully done the week before, has started to slip. Plus, there's that huge test on Friday you need to worry about. Remember, that test on Friday? It's here now. What do you mean you don't remember? Better get cracking!

It's a good thing having several near death experiences apparently goads you into taking schoolwork seriously for once. You can't really pinpoint why exactly that is, only that it is absolutely certainly the case. You hole yourself up in your room, only really going downstairs to get food, and study your dick off until you can at least get another week ahead on homework.

Great. Now you don't need to worry about it for the rest of the week.

(2/2)
Instead, you have to worry now about your, frankly, kind of battered body.

In between days holed up on your bed with a textbook, a notebook, a calculator, and a pencil, you spend more time in combat training with Ken. She's still grumpy, like a hibernating bear that woke up too early, and she brings weights and boxing gloves to test you with.

10 pound dumbbells in each hand, you can do maybe 50 overhead presses with them before your arms sort of give out and you need at least a ten minute break. You have never drank more Gatorade in your life before this week, it feels like.

On Friday, fresh off the high of the feeling of acing a test, or at least getting a B+ in it, Ken is working you to the bone with boxing gloves, teaching you how to throw a punch, "just in case". Her face is contorted into the same usual scowl you've been seeing recently, worrying you enough that you decide to start prodding mid punch like you don't have anything better to talk about.

Jab, cross, duck. Jab, cross, duck. "Everything alright, Ken? You've been acting a little surlier-- whoa!" you duck under her swiped hand-pads.

"I'm not here to gossip. Keep swinging." She tells you. Jab, cross, duck, like a machine, your elbows sore and your forearms burning as you whip out your fists.

"I'm just saying-- hey!" You duck again, and then take a step back. She claps her hands together and furrows her brow. "You've been acting a little surlier than normal. Everything alright?"

"I'm fine." She says, like someone who isn't fine, adjusting the wrist straps on her hand pads and putting them back up. "Keep swinging. Switch feet."

>Press her about it.
>Leave her be, keep swinging.
>Free Option.
>>
>>4898892
>"Sorry, I won't pry. But if you ever want to vent to somebody, maybe I'll do."
>>
>>4898892
Support >>4898977
>>
>>4898977
>>4899392
"Sorry, I won't pry." You say, taking a sharp inhale of breath and going back for it. Jab, cross, duck. Jab, cross, get whacked on the side of the head by Ken's fist holding a training pad, stumbling off course for a couple of seconds until you can steady yourself.

"Eyes up. Pay attention." She barks.

"I mean, just... If you ever want to vent to somebody, maybe I'll do." You say. She lowers her hands for a second, and you think her face might be softening, but then it immediately turns back into the same steely grimace it had moments ago.

"Duly noted. Now stop wasting time, let's go." She says, clapping her pad-covered hands against each other and then swinging at you.

Jab, cross, duck.

WEEK THREE OF FAST-FORWARD: Pick two from the following list
>You've been coming all this way, might as well continue training with Ken.
>Shadow Dr. Hyde some more, see what else he can teach you
>Make sure you keep staying on top of your studies.
>Study from your forbidden tome of illegal alchemy
>Take some "you" time so you don't burn yourself out.
>See if you can get into contact with anyone from Pandora.
>See if you can get into contact with Father Benedict.
>Ask Chief Grey to teach you some of that awesome flame alchemy.
>Do some independent investigation on the local Dragon and Mysterious Figure Handing Out Magic Pills situation.
>Spend some time by your lonesome theorycrafting and practicing your alchemy. (Pick a Style)
>Free Option.
>>
>>4901522
>Shadow Dr. Hyde some more, see what else he can teach you
>Make sure you keep staying on top of your studies.
>>
>>4901522
>>Study from your forbidden tome of illegal alchemy
>Check up on the siblings from the homunculus thing. It's been a few weeks, are they still out of school or something?
>>
>>4901522
did my vote get eaten?

>Study from your forbidden tome of illegal alchemy
>Check up on the siblings from the homunculus thing. Are they still out of school or what
>>
>>4901522
>You've been coming all this way, might as well continue training with Ken.
>Make sure you keep staying on top of your studies
>>
>>4901522
>Make sure you keep staying on top of your studies.
>Spend some time by your lonesome theorycrafting and practicing your alchemy. (Pick a Style)
>Mobility Alchemy

Moon boots on demand are too powerful a temptation for anyone to resist.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d5)

>>4901892
Mobility theorycrafting 1
>>4901720
Shadowing Dr. Hyde 2
>>4901887
Studying with Ken 3
>>4901730
Illegal Alchemy 4
Check up on Siblings 5
>>
>>4901730
>>4901892
>>4901887
>>4901720
Ken doesn't seem to mind when you let her know that you have to take a break - and, well, you're not lying, exactly. Your body is absolutely battered by all the training you've been going through, so you appreciate the opportunity to hole up in your bedroom and do precisely nothing of note while all the delayed onset muscle soreness hits you at once the next Monday, forcing you to shuffle your way through school like a zombie.

Okay, so, you don't spend a day studying. Instead, you spend a day in bed, trying to feel anything other than "hit by a truck" and playing around on your phone. You remember something that Dr. Hyde told you two weeks ago, something like "If you don't take a break on your own time, your body will do it on its time."

Damn. Guess you better build up some endurance so you don't have to take as many breaks.

Either way, Tuesday comes and you feel better enough that you can actually make up for what you missed on Monday. You sit on your bed, surrounded by books, and a single binder full of illegal human alchemy. There's nothing particularly interesting about your schoolwork - it's busywork, you're learning math, and science, and history (and evidently not the correct history anyway).

But the binder? The binder is definitely more interesting. It's grisly, and you're not an idiot - you know people who think they're fine and they start using a little dark magic and then get sucked into the dark side and next thing you know, they're a villain, but it's good to know what you'll be going up against, considering the known person-going-around-distributing-illegal-knowledge. For example, something that would've been slightly useful to know a little bit ago is finding out that you can control a homunculus, to an extent, by swapping blood with its progenitor - and that you can kill a homunculus by "temporarily exsanguinating" its creator. You can't even fathom how to do that temporarily, and you try not to think about it too hard.

But, there is one thing that really catches your eye, mostly in a worrying sense. Chapter #6, Chimeric Stabilizations & Other Biological Fusion Techniques, subheading "Egregore".
>>
>>4904670
An Egregore is to homunculus what meat is to the essential soul within each human being. By imbibing another individual's blood and mixing it with your own in Alchemical ritual, you can create an Egregore within yourself, who will give you knowledge, pneuma, and advice. Obviously, there are minor caveats. The amount of blood required to create a true Egregore would be enough to kill most people two or three times over, and Egregore possess a will of their own, generally not bound to yours.

Still, an Egregore can be an efficient creation for boosting one's own abilities, should you be able to handle the mental strain. Going forward, we will discuss techniques for selecting one's Egregoric source, consider the pros and cons of generating an Egregore or multiple Egregores, teach techniques on exterminating an unwanted Egregore, and consider theoretical Egregoric possession as a potential technique.


>This is disturbing, you should shut the binder and just... study instead.
>Read the subsection on Egregores in further detail.
>Read something else in this chapter.
>Read a different chapter.
>Free Option.
>>
>>4904672
>>Read the subsection on Egregores in further detail.
It *gives* you pneuma, that's quite interesting. But we'd have to get more calorie-neutral techniques to make use of a giant bank of pneuma.
>>
>>4904672
>Read the subsection on Egregores in further detail.
Is it somehow related to our mind-inhabitants?
>>
>>4904672
>>Read the subsection on Egregores in further detail.
what could possibly go wrong
>>
>>4904672
>Read the subsection on Egregores in further detail.
>>
>>4904672
>Read the subsection on Egregores in further detail.

>>4904685
That would actually make a lot of sense, given the entire orchestra we saw. In theosophist writing, Egregores are considered to be group-minds, psychic constructs made of many people's imprint on the spiritual plane amalgamated together. An orchestra playing a song is a pretty apt visual metaphor for one. Yeah, us having an Egregore but not knowing it seems plausible. If so, how'd we get it?
>>
>>4904895
mixing of blood sounds exactly like what Noah did to heal the wounds. As for the possibly-Dad, there's a lot of big questions there.
>>
>>4904679
>>4904685
>>4904758
>>4904894
>>4904895
You decide, more out of curiosity than anything else, to continue reading the subsection on Egregore. It eats up most of your night, not the least of which being that it's very jargon-dense in a way that requires you to flip back and forth between the glossary at the very back (which is itself jargon-laden and confusing) and the page you were at. It's almost physically exhausting to read.

Theoretical Egregoric Possession:

The Egregoric entity is hypothetically capable of overtaking the Primal entity of a host, although no such occurrences are known to exist in our modern day. With a weak enough Pneuma, it's, in theory, not improbable that an Egregoric entity consisting of more than four-to-one of the original Primal entity may be able to influence the behavior of the host both overtly and covertly. One consisting of more the ratio of nine-to-one or ten-to-one of the host's Pneuma reserves may well overtake the host entirely, subsuming the Primal entity into the Egregoric entity and wresting direct control of the body.

For most individuals, this process would be highly unpleasant. Fortunately for us, pleasantries are not something we are concerned about in our quest for immortality. If you possess a slave, servant, or otherwise loyal retainer, it should be possible to dilute their Pneuma reserves through alchemical poison to acceptable levels before transfusing blood patterns into them. This process will inevitably result in the death of your body, as no human, particularly not of our kind, could survive the ensuing exsanguination without some method to perfectly switch blood patterns across artery networks, and would also put your new body at severe risk of permanent harm.

Because of this, with the current state of medical alchemy, it is not recommended to attempt an Egregoric possession. We present the following information purely for the purposes of enticing thought, and perhaps convincing you to be the Alchemist to devise a method of performing such an operation safely:


You stop reading there, and skip to a different page, feeling a bit nauseous.

Egregore Extermination:

While we highly recommend all Alchemists of practicing age develop a minor Egregore from an appropriate source, for productivity benefits alone if nothing else, it may be possible that you develop a rebellious Egregore, or one with enough self-determination to be able to realize the nature of its existence, and will need to "reset" your body to prepare it for a newer, more compliant Egregore.
>>
>>4906042
Signs that you may be possessing of a rebellious Egregore include, but are not limited to;
--Excessive self-doubt and negativity
--Sudden attacks of conscience
--The perceiving of multiple individual courses of thought occurring simultaneously
--Sudden missing of time, paired with moments of extreme physical tension or collapse


You slam the binder shut. At some point in the past five minutes of reading, your face has become hot and flushed with blood, ringing in your ears, your vision blurry at the edges. You try to breathe deeply - it doesn't work.

>Go to the bathroom and dry heave.
>Keep trying breathing exercises until we calm down and then put the book away for the night.
>We're a big boy. Pull up our big boy pants and keep reading, this information will be useful.
>Okay, it is time to burn the evil binder of photocopied illegal Alchemy knowledge.
>Go to the bathroom and dry heave.
>Free Option.
>Go to the bathroom and dry heave.
>>
>>4906044
>We're a big boy. Pull up our big boy pants and keep reading, this information will be useful.
hooboy
>You've seen what they did when they handed out the pills. Now you need to know how to unfuck anything you do once you try something.
>>
>>4906044
>Keep trying breathing exercises until we calm down and then put the book away for the night.
This fucking book sent us into a hypertensive crisis, it seems. That's not something you deal with by "manning up".
>>
>>4906044
Kind of sounds like the symptoms of Egregore possession are identical to the symptoms of being a quest protagonist. That's worrying for us.

>Keep trying breathing exercises until we calm down and then put the book away for the night.

Yeah, let's just calm down and put this away for now. Breathe, listen to our music, get in a head space where we're not afraid to sleep because maybe the weird alchemy dreams will come.
>>
>>4906084
>>4906148
You keep the binder slammed shut, breathing with all the exercises you can remember. Square breaths. Triangle breaths. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Reciting street names to remain calm as something vile rises in your throat. Your brain flashes with images you've never seen before, and you take a deep breath, and banish them.

You feel like a balloon filled to bursting, and eventually, something at the back of your head goes pop and you slump forward, catching your breath. Your vision feels light and hazy, but you're not passing out, at least not to your knowledge. No seizure today, yet. Just... whatever it is that's going on. You take the binder, with shaking, sweating palms, and slide it underneath your bed, deciding to tuck yourself in under the blankets and chill out.

Then, you decide to get up and put on some music, quiet, low volume, needle crackling against the vinyl. You slip back under your blanket with the lights off now, and stare at the ceiling.

>What were the images? What *happened* to you?
>Think back to your childhood. Is there something you're missing here?
>Burn the binder.
>Go to the bathroom and dry heave.
>Just... go to bed. Just go to bed.
>Text someone who might know more. (Free Option.). Hope they're awake.
>Go to the bathroom and dry heave.
>Free Option.
>>
>>4907161
>What were the images? What *happened* to you?
>Think back to your childhood. Is there something you're missing here?
>>
>>4907161
>Start with what you know, then work your way up.
>>You probably have an egregor of that girl. Probably nothing too nuts, just need to check if there's any damage to her soul or whatever or if you did anything else.
>>That guy who seems like your dad is curious, but you don't see your mom in the headscape so there's a good chance something happened to put him in there.
>>Trying to remember with brute force may be related to your seizures. Should you take some venom first?
>>If something DID happen in the past, was it something near you or TO you? Maybe you had some serious injury?

>Just... go to bed. Just go to bed.
>>
>>4907161
Supporting >>4907172, seems to cover most of the points I'm thinking of. Though another important thing to consider is "why now?". Is this weirdness in response to the Dragon venom triggering something in us, or has it always been happening and we've just been forgetting because we weren't inoculated yet?
>>
>>4907172
>>4907339
You start with what you know - you've probably unintentionally created an Egregore of that girl. Considering the little exchanging of blood that happened, you don't think it's a huge one, but you need to make sure there's no damage to her soul or anything like that. This might require you checking back in with her in person or just reading the book more - you'll figure it out.

Second, the person you see in your dreams is probably your dad, or at least, they seem strongly like your dad. You have the feeling that something put him there, if there's another Egregore situation going on, whether a person or some other sort of event, considering that your mom doesn't appear to be in there. You think you'd notice that.

You've already come to the conclusion a couple of weeks ago that trying to remember your past too much might be the thing that gave you your seizure, and ponder if it was something that happened near you or something that happened to you? You're not too sure of that, or really, a lot of things right now.

You take a deep breath in through your nostrils and out through your mouth, staring at the ceiling.

As you fall asleep, you consider what it is you should do about this whole thing.

>Ask Hyde if he knows anything about this - you feel like he would be the person with the most to know about illegal medical alchemy.
>Ask your mom if anything happened to you while you were a kid. She wouldn't lie to you, would you?
>Take some extra naps so you can try to ask your Dad(?)-Egregore what he is and why he's in there.
>Rummage through old family shit to see if there's any record of anything strange happening to you.
>Free Option.

As you ruminate, slowly, the world closes into black around your eyes, and you pass out.
>>
>>4908524
>Rummage through old family shit to see if there's any record of anything strange happening to you.
Beyond that, I really think we just need to nut up and read the bits about egregors.
>>
>>4908524
>Rummage through old family shit to see if there's any record of anything strange happening to you.
Mom might simply not remember.
>>
>>4908524
>Rummage through old family shit to see if there's any record of anything strange happening to you.
>>
>>4908524
>Rummage through old family shit to see if there's any record of anything strange happening to you.
>>
>>4908869
>>4908594
>>4908586
>>4908529
The next couple of days pass like molasses, even as time seems to fly by in the general sense. You get random headaches from no apparent source, unsure if they're from stress or something more sinister. You feel distressed, that's for sure, and you avoid the binder of forbidden alchemy for now, just trying to keep up on your studies and rest your (still weary) body.

Then, after a couple of days of sitting on it, on a day you know your Mom will be out late, you rummage through old shit. You sneak into the hidden realm of Mom's bedroom in the back of the rowhome, which is disused enough that the still-made bed has a fairly fine layer of dust on it. She saves it for special occasions, like being able to use one of her vacation days. You gasp in very mild shock at seeing what is very plainly medical marijuana edibles on her nightstand still in their wrapper, expiration date being a month from now or so - you don't touch them any further than that. There's a tiny, almost antique looking CRT still with rabbit ear antennae that looks like it hasn't been turned on in years sitting on her dresser, and a closet that you crack open and flick an old, flickering light on into.

Mostly clothes. But a couple of suitcases and boxes in the back. Most of them have... more clothes, or assorted stuff like a bunch of tax papers stacked in neat files and folders, signed with the name of an accountant you vaguely recognize from somewhere in your memories. Nothing interesting there.

But then, there's a box full of photographs.

You leaf through it as silently as you can, fearing that any overt motion will somehow summon your Mom home from her busy job to find you rummaging through old belongings. To be honest, you don't even know why you're afraid of being caught, but as you look through old pictures, your heart beats faster and faster. Pictures of you as a little baby. Occasional pictures of your father, who looks exactly like the man in your dreams, if a bit... lighter, more carefree. Less intense. There's a shine in his eyes that's missing in your mind. Occasional family friends that you vaguely recognize from long-buried memories before she started taking more hours to raise a child on a single mother's budget. "Aunts" and "Uncles" that probably haven't seen you since you were nine.

A picture of an old man captures your eye, and you flip it over, looking for some sort of explanatory note as to who he is or why he's in a family photo with your mom and your dad, before you were born, before she was full of stress wrinkles. A grandfather you've never been told about? Something else? He's not invisible in the photo - he's clearly interacting with them, spry enough to enjoy a drink at a bar with them. Probably no older than 70 - but if there's ever been a grandfather in your life... you don't know of them.
>>
>>4909451

>Look for more pictures of "Grandpa"
>Put everything back where it was and quiz Mom about it when she she next has time.
>Try to reach back in your brain to see if you remember anything.
>Free Option.
>>
>>4909452
>Look for more pictures of "Grandpa"
Any resemblance to the conductor of the weird dream orchestra, or has it been long enough since that dream that we can't tell?
>>
>>4909451
>disused bed
Where does she sleep then?
>Look for more pictures of "Grandpa"
>>
>>4909764
Usually on the couch - she works long, late hours as a nurse at the local hospital, and usually doesn't have the energy to go to her bedroom nor the desire to repeatedly make her bed. Easier to collapse on the couch.
>>
>>4909792
This is horrifying.
>>
>>4909802
Unfortunately this is just what living as a nurse is usually like in modern times hue he ha ha heo hoo
>>4909764
>>4909728
You look for more pictures of the person you've dubbed as Grandpa, trying to string together any loose coherency here. You take them out, mark their place, and examine them one at a time, raising them up and around and glinting them against the light, trying to get every angle you can on this person.

You try to examine him close enough, to recall your dream a couple of years ago where you first witnessed the orchestra, if there was any resemblance - but it's escaping you. Any features that person has had have been wiped away with time. Maybe if it was sooner after, you could've been more easily able to tell, but you try not to dwell on the what-ifs too much. You can only work with the information you have.

Here's what you do have. Gingerly holding the corners of each photo, you can tilt them up to the light and see where finger touches have wiped away dust, left behind oil, messed up the photo's light. You don't have super sight, there's limits, but you notice very distinctly that the photographs with "Grandpa" are all much dustier, much less well-worn, well-loved, than the others. You slide them back into their position, and as you're arranging them back in the order you noted, you realize that they're all in the very back of the box. Not the only photos in the back, but there's none of them above the front 2/3s of the box, and certainly the only ones that look like they haven't been touched in years if not decades. The only other distinguishing factors is wrinkling - the polaroids with "Grandpa" all appear to be creased and wrinkled as if folded, while the majority of the other photographs are free of creases.

You idly consider the evidence.

>He was eaten by a Dragon, and your Mom forgot about him. It would fit the continual chain of strange coincidences your life has turned into, if nothing else.
>Your Mom knows about him and intentionally does not fiddle with these photos. Maybe he did something bad, and is persona non-grata?
>Something about keeping his memory - he's died, and your Mom doesn't want to harm any of the mint condition photographs?
>Some other theory (Free Option).

When you're done considering the evidence, you...

>Put the box away, get ready to ask questions of mom to test your theory.
>Rummage around further for any more evidence you could possibly find.
>Try to see if there's *anything* in your early-childhood brain about a Grandpa.
>Free Option.
>>
>>4910656
>Some other theory
The folding wrincles drew my attention. I don't know why someone would fold photos, but it's obvious that these folded photos were stored somewhere else before, then moved into this box. This imo throws away the Dragonfood theory. My current theory is that he reminds our mom of something unpleasant, but not necessarily something he did.

>Rummage around further for any more evidence you could possibly find.
What I want to check:
-Whether the photos in the box appear to be sorted by time
-Who else is in the "Grandpa"'s photos. What's common between these photos?
-What'c common between "Grandpa"'s photos and other folded photos.
>>
>>4910656
>Some other theory (Free Option).
Not enough to go by, yet. If they're all folded, then that suggests they were taken from some other storage medium and intentionally placed here, so Mom probably doesn't have Dragon venom occulting her memories. Hell, this might not be Dragon-related at all, just some relative that Mom doesn't like to think of for whatever reason.

>Free Option.
In addition to the evidence-rummaging ideas that >>4910667 had, I'd like to take a few photos to scan into digital format. There are a bunch of free facial recognition programs available online these days, I'd like to see if any of them return anything on our mysterious possibly-grandpa.
>>
No update tonight, very sleepy, will try to update in the morning.
>>
>>4910840
>>4910667
You think about the possibilities, steadily ruling things out the best you can. You don't think it's dragon related, since these pictures look like they were moved, stored somewhere else and then brought here. If they were forgotten, then they would probably have been left in whatever box they used to be in - at least, that makes sense to you.

You think of some other things to check, starting with any sort of sorting. You pick out random pictures as gingerly as you can and try to place dates, judging by your mom's wrinkles, the presence of your father, and the presence of you. Your mom doesn't seem to be the labeling sort, so you're working entirely with unlabeled images. You spend about ten minutse just looking, and as far as you can tell, there's no particular order other than the ones with your "Grandpa" being in the back.

There is a couple of things you're noticing regarding commonalities, however. Once you flip through the other folded photos, it becomes readily apparent. While not all the pictures of your Dad are folded, all the folded photos do have either your Dad or "Grandpa" in them, and there's only two without both in the pile. When your "Grandpa" is in a photo, so is your Dad. You aren't sure what that means, but you have a couple of ideas...

You take just two of the photos, with the clearest pictures of "Grandpa"'s face, and stuff them into your pocket, before setting everything back into the box it was in and pushing it back into place. You turn the light off, shut the closet door gingerly, and then slip out of your mother's bedroom.

The remainder of the week passes by uneventfully. Your brain violently recoils at the thought of investigating more, so you take it easy for a day or two until it stops feeling like a wrung-out sponge.

WEEK FOUR OF FAST-FORWARD: Pick two from the following list
>Get back on the training with Ken.
>Shadow Dr. Hyde some more, see what else he can teach you
>Make sure you keep staying on top of your studies.
>Take some "you" time so you don't burn yourself out.
>Hang out with a friend.
>See if you can get into contact with anyone from Pandora.
>See if you can get into contact with Father Benedict.
>Ask Chief Grey to teach you some of that awesome flame alchemy.
>Do some independent investigation on the local Dragon and Mysterious Figure Handing Out Magic Pills situation.
>Investigate the book of forbidden alchemy further, particularly Egregores.
>Investigate your "Grandpa" and Dad.
>Spend some time by your lonesome theorycrafting and practicing your alchemy. (Pick a Style)
>Free Option.
>>
>>4913270
>Investigate the book of forbidden alchemy further, particularly Egregores.
Noah's constantly pushing his mental limits. Anything that brings down upkeep will help.
>Check up on the siblings from the homunculus thing. Are they still out of school or what
>>
>>4913270
>Check up on the siblings from the homunculus thing. Are they still out of school or what
>Hang out with a friend.
>>
>>4913270
>Investigate your "Grandpa" and Dad.
Like I said, there are a ton of free facial recognition apps. Let's see if there are any public images of this man.

>Get back on the training with Ken.
We had some time off, let's do some more training.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d4)

>>4913429
Investigate is 1
>>4913476
Hang out is 2
>>4913948
Grandpa is 3
Training is 4
>>
>>4916409
>>4913948
Unfortunately, your investigation, at least in terms of using facial recognition, is a quick dead end. Whatever civilian stuff you have access to with no credit card (and not willing to steal your mother's, or anyone else's) isn't able to pick anything up from the slightly degraded photos and oblique angles that the photographs of your "Grandpa" are taken to.

So, you use your noodle. Unlike the facial recognition stuff, ancestry records are somewhat strangely public, so you start looking. Your mom first, with some simple keywords. The place you live, the nearest coastal city, and you quickly come up with hits.

"Zhao Qiang", a grandfather, and "Lee Xiuying", a grandmother. There is a single photo, in an obituary. Your grandfather (assuming that there isn't another Hua Lee and Noah Lee out there, which would be odd) ran a small local newspaper a town over, the same newspaper that ran his obituary after he retired and passed away peacefully of old age. Xiuying wasn't listed as having done anything, other than that she survived him. Further obituary checking reveals she died a couple of years later, quick math putting your mom at 19 or 20 at the time.

Qiang is definitely not the man in the photo - he looks spry, investigative. You can tell, something about his expression, that he's the sort of man who cracks people open. His mustache is broad and styled in a fashion that strikes you as both immaculate and somewhat silly. You spend a whole day reading into this ancient, defunct local newspaper, preserved by the legions of internet amateur archivists out there, how unlikely it was for an immigrant, particularly in the throes of the post-WWII environment, to raise to the sort of station that would let him eventually become editor in chief of a newspaper, even if a small one.

You read a couple of his articles. He has a sharp, biting tongue and an acerbic wit. He commented on local politics, mostly, breaking news about scandal and corruption. He tricked his way into places he shouldn't have been and got candid scoops from people who should've known better to not talk to him. Then he died at the age of sixty-six.

You look elsewhere.

There's only one listed parent for Valentino D'Angelo, and very few pictures of your father on the internet. One mugshot is the clearest you can find. A couple that look like they might've been clipped from old security camera footage. Nothing newer than 12 years ago or so.

Listed father: Georgio D'Angelo. Obituary date of death is a month after you were born. Nothing else. No pictures, no biographical information, no wife, no parents, no other children, nothing.

You're not stupid. You understand process of elimination. If the person in the photos is your grandfather, then it has to be Georgio D'Angelo. Qiang just looks nothing like the man in the photo and the dates don't match up - he died before your mom even met Valentino.

But at least you have a name to go off now.
>>
>>4916422

>>4913429
>>4913476
During the school week, you check to make sure Jason, his sister, and Violet are alright. First, you have to find them, but given that Facebook exists it doesn't take too long of sifting through people's friends lists for a Jason to find a name, and from there, it's easier to look around for them now that you know who to look for.

Jason Lindroth, Sasha Lindroth, Violet Vaughn. You catch sight of them during school at lunch, so they're still in school, at least.

You hold back from approaching for the first couple of days of the week, chewing on it. They all eat lunch together, along with a couple of other people who basically don't register to you, single-minded as your focus is.

But, today. Lunchtime. Are you going to probe? You eat by yourself, as usual, and it would definitely be a little strange to suddenly approach in case they don't remember you, but the cafeteria is full of activity and you doubt you would stand out much, so there's not much risk of wide social ostracism - just an awkward occasion.

>Walk over, say hello, ask how they're doing.
>Walk over, introduce yourself, sit down.
>Wordlessly sit down at their table. Let them engage.
>Walk over, ask if they have had any monster encounters recently.
>Just eat lunch and keep your head low. You don't need to interact to investigate.
>Free Option.
>>
>>4916423
>Wordlessly sit down at their table. Let them engage.
>>
>>4916423
>Walk over, say hello, ask how they're doing.
don't be a weirdo
>>
>>4916423
>Walk over, say hello, ask how they're doing.
>>
>>4916753
>>4916795
Let's not be weird about this - you are fully capable of interacting with people you've never met outside of a life-or-death situation like a normal person. Even though making friends has never exactly been your strong suit. C'mon, Noah, you got this.

You get up, having finished your food, and walk over. The prospect of the people around you looking at you fills you with some kind of indeterminable dread. You make it to the lunch table that they're sitting at without an incident - the three of them, and a person you don't recognize, a boy with brown hair.

Everyone looks at you funny. You pick up a hand and wave politely. "Hey."

You examine their faces, scrutinizing them for details, trying not to let your eyes bug out. If there's even a flicker of recognition, the three of them are doing a great job at hiding it. Just great. "How are y'all doing?"

"Hey." Jason says, and then they return to their conversation. Something about the latest baseball, which is immediately incomprehensible to you, as a sports-non-lover. They don't even really give you a second look. Then, Jason remembers that you asked him a question and glances at you. "Just peachy, thanks. Yourself?"

"Just fine." You reply. They return to their conversation, mostly ignoring you.

>Ask if they've heard any recent news about that one teacher, you know, the pedophile?
>Ask them if they remember you.
>Ask if they know where you can get any drugs.
>Don't be weird, just go on your phone or something until lunch is over.
>Try to participate in their normal conversation.
>Free Option.
>>
>>4917851
Hmm, so they've forgotten. I guess that's the best they could've hoped for. We've got way too much on our plate to un-forget those memories.
>Ask if he knows anything about the vandalism, we heard some crazy stuff like explosions or aliens.
>>
>>4917851
Supporting >>4918274
>>
>>4917851
Yeah, supporting >>4918274
>>
Far too exhausted from my first day in the office in months to write tonight, thought I had it in me, did not. Will try to update during my lunch break tomorrow. Thank you all for reading and bearing with me!
>>
>>4918274
>>4918338
>>4918359
You lean in, confident that you have a way to attract their attention while also feeling somewhat relieved that they could just... forget it all and move on. You're not sure if you're relieved for their sake, or for yours, but, either way, relief is the feeling.

"Did you guys hear anything about that vandalism a couple of weeks ago?" You ask, low, hushed, but high energy. You've got the goods. You have the information.

This gets their attention. "I mean, besides that it happened, no." Jason says, turning his head slightly towards you. "Why do you ask? Isn't that a little old news?"

You lean in, trying to smile enthusiastically, like you're pulling them in on some conspiracy. "Okay, this is going to sound bonkers, but I heard there might've been aliens involved. I'm not sure what to believe, it's all really weird and nobody ever popped up and there's never been any motive or note, right?" You ask. As the words leave your mouth, Violet's face falls, and your heart drops.

Against perhaps all odds, Jason shifts in his chair towards you, while Sasha leans back to eat chips with an eyebrow raised. "Yeah? Aliens, huh?"

"Or, like, cryptids, or whatever, something not human. Like... my friend told me that whatever blew up the locker room, nobody can remember it, and there's nothing on the cameras, otherwise they would've caught it. Like, you'd think if they caught it, it'd be on the news or something, right? Or it'd filter out somehow, yeah? Nobody here can keep their mouth shut."

Jason's eyes are a little wide as he props his elbows up onto the table, shifting a little closer towards you. You continue.

"Everyone in here has at least a friend or two that would notice if their friend got arrested or whatever. Word would spread. But it's been, like, a month, and nobody's heard anything. Isn't that a little weird?"

Jason is somehow attached hook, line, and sinker. "I mean..."

"But, like, I might be working off incomplete information. Did you hear anything?" You ask. Violet rolls her eyes silently, quietly annoyed at the interruption of their baseball conversation.

"No, nothing. Weird, right?"

"Weird." You mirror. "Nothing?"

"Absolutely nothing."

>Try to slip them safety information about Dragons under the guise of gossip about the vandal.
>Ask him if he has any thoughts about the teacher they tried to kill.
>Ask him if he's been having any weird experiences, missing memories, stuff like that? Maybe the alien is coming for ~~you!~~
>Free Option.
>>
>>4920912
>Just eat. It's better for them not to remember anyway.
>>
>>4920912
Damn, they really treated Violet well if she's completely functional.
>Push on the teacher angle, but stop there. If they don't personally remember the teacher, maybe don't try to dig up sealed memories of sexual harassment.
>>
>>4920915
Support
>>
>>4920912
>Free Option.
>Drop it for now, there's nothing we can do here, but resolve to ask FOODS what the hell happened to them. Was this an intentional memory wipe, is it a side effect of their bootleg alchemy pills, what?
>>
Having what the kids call a "bad time" and also a "drastic need to force reset my sleep schedule", so no update tonight, sorry folks. Will try to get you one when I wake up. No guarantees.
>>
>>4920915
>>4921036
"Weird." You repeat, dropping the subject. You've assessed their memory - nil - and know sort of vaguely where to go from here with your investigation. At the bare minimum, you don't need to involve them any more than they already have been involved.

You just finish your food. They return to their earlier conversation, and then the lunch bell rings, and the four of you split to your separate classes.

Time to keep moving on with your life. What's next on the chopping block?-- Ah, fuck, homecoming. Right. You remember it on the way home from school - and thus come to the realization that it's at the end of the next week, and you have zero plans. Time to start contemplating them!

That being said, leaning your head onto the window of the school bus slowly rolling its way through suburban streets - it's finally the weekend, and that means you're free of responsibilities for at least two days. There's no instructions nor is there a plan.

You get home, and Mom is asleep on the couch. You tuck her in.

What's the plan for the weekend?

>Free Option.
>>
>>4923517
hang out with pals?
>>
>>4923517
Hang out with Rebecca
>>
>>4923517
Physical training
>>
>>4923517
Supporting >>4923525
>>
>>4924285
>>4923555
(nice trips)
>>4923525
Just locking this in for tomorrow. My sleep schedule has begun increasingly degrading and I've begun hallucinating very slightly so. I may need to take a little break. We'll see.
>>
File: Rebecca George.jpg (315 KB, 919x1280)
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315 KB .jpg
>>4923525
>>4923555
>>4924285
Thankfully, it seems as if Rebecca is free for the weekend, which is cool, because you would definitely like to hang out with her! So, you text her after school and, uh, get that all squared away. It's not really anything important enough to zoom in on.

She shows up to your house at a Saturday afternoon, greeting your mother with a wry smile as your mom curls up on the couch with a little quilted blanket over her. Your mom quietly waves hello, and you hear her say, "Just wake me up if you two need anything.", and Rebecca gives a polite little "Okay!" and starts making her way up the stairs.

As she passes you by, she gives you a peck on the cheek, and you immediately flush with blood like a ripe tomato while she ambles into your bedroom and flops down on your bed. You follow in shortly afterwards, sitting down in a much less flamboyant fashion than her flopping, while she kicks her shoes off into the air, watching them flip end over end, landing perfectly flat on the ground next to each other. "What's good, jazz boy?" She asks, poking you in the earlobe. She's smiling, and she doesn't appear to be able to stop smiling, which strikes you as slightly new. "What's new with you? Have any other seizures?"

"I'm not sure if that's really a thing to talk casually about?" You ask into the open air, kicking your feet back and forth. Unlike her, since you hadn't left the house, you don't have shoes to take off. "But no, I haven't."

Man, it'll be weird to explain to people that you think your seizures are because you might or might not have a magic-induced alternate personality swimming around in your head, or something? That'll be weird. For a second, you think that you feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up, but you give it a pat and confirm that your alchemy sense is not going off, thank god.

"That's good. I think I would be upset if something bad happened to you." She says, still smiling despite somber tone.

"You think?" You ask, a little amusedly incredulous.

"I mean, I probably will, but how will I know until it happens? Not that I'm hoping it is, I just don't like making guaranteed statements in case I end up retroactively lying. You know, that's not so unreasonable, is it?" She replies.

You laugh a little bit to yourself. "No, I suppose not."

Pick any number of choices, top two will win.
>Listen to music together.
>Play games on your laptop.
>Watch a movie.
>Gossip about school.
>Ask about her personal life.
>Ask her out to Homecoming
>Free Option.
>>
>>4926470
>Play games on your laptop.
>Ask her out to Homecoming
>>
>>4926470
>Play games on your laptop.

>>Ask her out to Homecoming
>>
>>4926470
>Play games on your laptop.
>Ask her out to Homecoming
>>
>>4926470
>Play games on your laptop.
>Ask her out to Homecoming
>>
>>4926856
>>4926553
>>4926490
>>4926485
You already have a pretty focused plan on what exactly you'll be doing with the afternoon - you propose playing video games, and Rebecca smiles like she just won the lottery. She asks if you have many video games, and you sheepishly admit it's only a mild pasttime of yours, and then she asks if she can log in to her Steam account on your computer.

You say yes, and your eyes spit out of their sockets. The little number on the side says more than a thousand.

The two of you spend pretty much the rest of the afternoon getting a tasting platter of every single kind of video game you could possibly conceive of, and several you hadn't, considering the most "hardcore" thing you've ever played is maybe the Legend of Bum-Bo.

As the sun slowly dips down below the horizon, occasionally managing to catch the two of you with one of her spears, you pitch the question during a lull in the action. Wow! Asking a girl out on what is effectively a date is surprisingly nerve-wracking. She's staring at the computer screen, while you are literally trying to physically force the words out of your throat. It takes a whole two minutes of straining before you actually manage to ask it out in what is almost a squeak more than anything else. "Hey, uh, Rebecca, do you want to, uh... Go... Um..."

"To homecoming? Yeah, sure." She preempts you, barely taking her eyes away from the screen. You let out a squeaky, gasping breath and she looks at you with a raised eyebrow, chuckling to herself. "What? Did I guess wrong?"

"No, that was... I was going to ask that. Did you not, uh, have a date already?" You ask, and she bends over to kiss your forehead and tousle your hair a little bit. You immediately put your hair back into place. "I'm a little surprised..."

"Aw, I'm flattered, but I usually just don't go to dances. Not really my thing." She responds, hitting the esc key to pause the game.

"So do you want to, uh, do something else instead? We don't -- we don't have to go--" You stammer out, and she presses her finger against your lips assertively.

"Bruh," She forces out like a stale breath. "Don't worry about it. I'll go to Homecoming with you. Honestly I've just never bothered because I never had a reason to go. No idea if I'll like it or not. So, sure, I'll go. Just don't expect me to get, like, a gown or anything."

"You never struck me as the gown type." You reply.

"Good instincts." She shoots back, flicking her finger across your nose.

The night winds down.

---

Eventually, it's dark outside, the sun fully sunken below the horizon, where it's only visible by proxy through the light of the reddish-orange harvest moon. The two of you are a little exhausted, full of snacks from the fridge, and have reached the point of building a little pillow fort to lean on slash sort of sit under (its hanging over your heads).
>>
>>4929033

The two of you share a sort of bleary glance. "I, uh, I guess I should get going? It's a little later than I thought it'd get, haha..." She says, looking around at nothing in particular, laughing nervously to herself. "I mean, like... I don't mind sleeping over, but it's a little spontaneous... Don't have any morning clothes..."

You can't tell if she's trying to convince you (modestly), or trying to give you reasons to send her home. Man, socialization is hard!

>"You can stay over, going out this late at night is dangerous anyway."
>"Sleepover! Sleepover!" The last time you've had one of those was like... Third grade? Actually, that's kind of sad, don't say that out loud.
>"You should probably head home." Your brain tells you horrific visions of bad things coming to you at night and Rebecca getting caught in the crossfire. Shut up, brain, this is clearly a bad option. Catastrophize.
>"Well, do you *want* to stay over?" Go along with whatever she wants.
>Free Option.
>>
>>4929035
>You can stay over, going out this late at night is dangerous anyway."
Socialization IS hard.
>>
>>4929035
>"You can stay over, going out this late at night is dangerous anyway."
>check on mom, make sure there's no FOODS guy standing outside the door again.
>>
>>4929035
>"Well, do you *want* to stay over?" Go along with whatever she wants.
>>
Gonna close up shop after this update and archive, feels like a good stopping point. New thread tomorrow or the day after depending on how much I can un-fuck my sleep schedule.

Thank you all for reading and I hope you're all still enjoying it!

>>4929098
>>4929058
"Oh, don't worry abut it, you can stay over. Going out this late at night is dangerous anyway." You reassure her, looking down at your bed. On one hand, sleeping in a bed with a girl, on the other hand, is that weird? Should you sleep... on the floor? On the couch? You have plenty of leftover blankets and linens, you could definitely set up something on the floor. Or maybe she'd be comfortable with--

"Oh, that's great! Should I take the floor?" She asks, answering the question for you. She glances at you, and then glances away. There's obviously the possibility hanging in the air, but neither one of you wants to acknowledge it out loud, even though it's obvious that the two of you probably want to.

You try to say something else, but what comes out instead is "Oh, don't worry about it, you're the guest so you can take the bed."

And then she does. Not immediately, of course, since the two of you spend another couple of hours playing video games until the moon has begun descending back down the sky and your eyes both burn. The two of you decide that you should probably get to sleep.

You grab some linens from your closet - two unused comforters to provide enough cushioning, folded over each other, that you don't break your back on the carpeted floor, and as many unused pillows as you can humanly find. Rebecca requests a spare blanket, which you provide, and you take your usual blanket from your bed. You assess its size one last time - the bed would probably fit two, but just barely, and you would absolutely be cramped.

You look back down on the floor, and lie down. Rebecca gets situated. Sleep, somehow, comes easy.

To be continued...
>>
Also, while I am here - would any of the readers be interested in a Quest discord server for more casual discussion of the quest, potentially other quests, and general out-hanging? Won't do it if it's a Bad Idea, so consider this an interest check.
>>
>>4931731
Thanks for running!

>>4931744
The common opinion is that quest discords are bad. The discussion shifts into the discord and divides the playerbase into those that use the discord and those who don't. I haven't seen it play out myself though, so I can only parrot what I've heard.
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>>4931752
This is fair enough! Was just an idea I was mulling over.
>>
Archive:
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/4894465/

New thread!
>>4936182
>>4936182

Thanks for reading!