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/qst/ - Mitsuba Archive


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You are Noel Tiberius, queen of the sovereign realm of Hazaran and among the top expert monster hunters in the world. But lately there haven’t been all that many monsters worth slaying – even the mighty abyssal ones have either had changes of heart, seeking coexistence with humanity and with your fellow half-blooded warriors, or have fallen to the combined prowess of your faction. Instead, most of the threat comes from the most difficult enemy of all for you and the other warriors like you to deal with – ordinary humans.

You’ve just dealt with a conflict in a Sakian town that was partly of your own making, between technologically advanced invaders from a far-off continent and the local people. The invaders had wanted to use a bridge through the town to move their heavy weapons, positioning them along the northern border of your kingdom. Destroying that bridge in the night drew the ire of nearby soldiers, who attempted to purge the town of most of its men and boys in retaliation.

Of course you couldn’t just allow that to happen. So you and Jenna, the most violent of your ‘ducklings’ from years past, stood up to the soldiers. Only one of them ended up dead after his own subordinates shot him to try to kill you, though a few also lost limbs in the process. Its only because of your insistence that the soldiers survived at all – the local townsfolk were ready to hack them to pieces themselves.

But even now that you’ve found a tentative resolution here, more has to be done.

“We should find the others,” you decide. “Other places may have similarly vindictive occupiers – maybe even worse.”

“Okay,” Jenna agrees. “So Helen and Nessa went to attack some supplies outside a town to the north, while Serana and Alexa will be hitting a bridge to the west. Valentina and Justina are dealing with a fortified house.”

“Each of those has different reasons to back up the warriors there,” you muse. “Serana and Alexa’s target is the most nearly similar to what we were dealing with here, so there’s a chance of reprisals. The loss of supplies could also be keenly felt by the invaders, and apparently they already had problems with the locals stealing from those supplies.”

“Would they make the leap to suspect the locals?” Jenna wonders. “Destroying is way different from stealing.”

“It’s possible,” you admit. “I wouldn’t make that leap, but some junior officer could get the wrong idea and assume the locals decided that if they couldn’t have those supplies nobody could. It’s dumb, but being dumb doesn’t preclude being possible.”

“I guess it all comes down to how likely you think it is,” Jenna shrugs. “Whaddyou think about Justina and Valentina’s target?”
>1/?
>>
>>5191331
E
>>
>>5191331
“It has the clearest military significance and can’t be confused for a civilian action,” you lay our your line of reasoning. “But that could also mean the stiffest resistance, and a greater danger of things spiraling out of control.”

“You’re worried about them?”

You nod. “Queen or no, warrior or no, it’s just human nature to be concerned for your friends.”

“Human nature, huh?” she muses. “Guess that makes us human then... cause after what we saw today I’m a little worried too. Yay us.”

“It’s fine to be worried,” you reply with a sigh, “so long as that concern drives us to take decisive action, rather than act recklessly or show cowardice.”

“Aren’t recklessness and cowardice human things too?” Jenna shakes her head.

“So are patience, focus, and courage,” you point out. “The best and worst of humanity can be found anywhere if you look hard enough – sometimes in the same person. What I think we should do with our training is ensure that we exemplify the best in humanity whenever we can, even under extreme circumstances.”

“You always make these things sound so easy,” Jenna sighs. “When really what you’re saying is we need to be better than human.”

“In a way that’s always been true,” you admit, “because so many people think of us as less than human – it’s a struggle just to break even with people like that. But I think we’ve all up to the challenge.”

“Except Clarice apparently.”

You nod. “I have to admit, I don’t understand what’s wrong with that one.”

“If we did we could do something about it,” Jenna shrugs. “So speaking of doing something... what now, oh fearless leader?”

>We back up Serana and Alexa. There are too many parallels between their objective and ours to ignore.
>We assist Helen and Nessa. The Organization will really miss those supplies when they’re gone.
>What Valentina and Justina need most is a diversion. I’m sure you and I can cook something up.
>Other?
>>
>>5191335
>>We assist Helen and Nessa. The Organization will really miss those supplies when they’re gone.
As much as I want to see what our spicy pepper and Amazon listening device are up to, history has proven time and again that an army fights on it's stomach.
>>
>>5191389
>>5191335
Agreed with this, including the naming jokes
>>
>>5191335
>We assist Helen and Nessa. The Organization will really miss those supplies when they’re gone.
>>
>>5191335
>We assist Helen and Nessa. The Organization will really miss those supplies when they’re gone.
>>
>>5191335
“I think we should assist Helen and Nessa,” you decide. “I’m sure Valentina and Justina will have thought of causing a distraction to pull off their mission, and there was plenty of time between our strike on the bridge and the retaliation. But the Organization will really miss those supplies when they’re gone.”

“So it’s both a really important objective and a likely place where they might go in for retaliation?” Jenna nods in understanding. “I follow. Yeah, that makes sense.”



The trip overland doesn’t take long, with both yourself and your duckling companion capable of running near-indefinitely at what would be a dead sprint for most humans on flat terrain. And though the roads aren’t exactly wonderful in this region, you can definitely keep up a ferocious pace.

You arrive in the area shortly before dusk, as the sun is sinking low on the horizon, and trace your last steps by following the familiar feeling of Helen and Nessa’s yōki auras.

“What are you doing here?” Helen asks you calmly and quietly when you do eventually meet. “Did you not have your own objective?”

“It got complicated,” you sigh, before explaining everything that happened.



“I see,” she nods once you’re done.

“That definitely seems like trouble,” Nessa shakes her head, expression unusually grim. “Good that no bystanders died, but it raises the problem for us now.”

“We will still follow through,” Helen assures you all curtly. “I can think of at least one way to minimize the chance of misguided retaliation…”

>If you mean making sure that we’re seen when we do it, then I agree. That’s a simple solution.
>I don’t approve of that. I think we should strike and observe, just as before, and then reassess.
>If we’re going to let them know we’re here, can’t we at least consider using that to our advantage?
>Other?
>>
>>5192133
>>If you mean making sure that we’re seen when we do it, then I agree. That’s a simple solution.
>>
>>5192133
>>If you mean making sure that we’re seen when we do it, then I agree. That’s a simple solution.
>>
>>5192133
3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 1, 1, 1 = 3 (3d10)

>>5192483
>>
Rolled 2, 2, 9 = 13 (3d10)

>>5192483
>>
Rolled 3, 9, 9 = 21 (3d10)

>>5192483
>>
Rolled 9, 3, 8 = 20 (3d10)

>>5192483
>>
>>5192483
“It’s simple,” you admit with a subtle nod of approval. “Sometimes simple is what’s called for.”

“Wait,” Jenna frowns, “are we saying what I think we’re saying?”

Helen shrugs. “If by that you mean to ask are we suggesting that we should go out of our way to be seen at this, you’re only half right.”

“Oh?”

“Only two of us need to be seen,” Nessa guesses Helen’s meaning. “Is that what you’re thinking?”

“You and I,” Helen tells her. “Noel and Jenna will act as a reserve. I assume my plan meets with your approval, Noel?”

“With certain modifications,” you admit, quickly clearing some of the decaying leaves at your feet that have collected in the little hilltop copse where you’ve all been taking cover. “Here. Show me the town and where the supplies are.”

...

Helen ends up painting a pretty picture in the dirt for you – the outskirts of the town, laid out basically in correct scale and proportion but with very few features depicted beyond that, and the location of the supplies and the most important defensive posts around those supplies. You also have something crucial for developing a broader plan, which is the location of the barracks to the level of detail that you know where the kitchen is. That will be the key.

...

You watch your handiwork in the dim light of the moon and stars and the flickering of widely-spaced watch fires, having hidden yourself together with Jenna after putting the pieces together. Basically, you poured the cooking oil all over the inside of the kitchen, a mixed wooden and mud-brick structure once hastily constructed then gradually modified over the months as time and materials allowed, then set a flame to it.

All the food that was there, anything else that was inside, and parts of the building itself are soon in flames, and those flames begin to spread to the adjacent barracks. A few men run out shouting, and a bucket brigade soon comes together involving a large number of the soldiers. So while many of the guard posts remain manned that’s just about all that remains – so Helen and Nessa can proceed without concern of accidentally running into anyone. All they need to worry about are the guard posts, which they already know are there and which are stationary.
>1/2
>>
>>5193193
Even as the soldiers work to stop the kitchen fire, you can spot Helen and Nessa sprinting towards the supply dump. Right past a guard tower, stood on four wooden posts to overlook the flat area outside town that was selected for the purpose, which they topple on their way by slicing at the posts as they pass. When they reach their goal they light the wicks of pre-prepared fire bombs, thin-walled glass jars full of lamp oil that drip down the stacks of supplies and spread the flames widely. Just six bombs each and it seems like the entire pile is involved, with individual rounds of ammunition cooking off somewhere deep inside.

The guards flee their posts and run back towards the town without even making an effort to put out the flames, and even the soldiers at the nearby barracks fighting that fire quickly abandon their task.

“It seems we were right,” you sigh in mild relief, rising from your hiding spot to reposition yourselves. “They really did put that thing far enough away from the town not to be a threat.”

Meanwhile, Helen makes it a point to appear before the confused soldiers. “This island is not your home,” she addresses them in a booming voice, even as equally confused and surprised locals flood the streets. “You should leave it before it becomes your grave.”

One of the soldiers raises a pistol as Helen turns to leave, ensuring that she flashes her massive sword before she goes, but a nearby civilian stops the soldier.

“What the hell, are you out of your mind!?” the local man hisses at the foreigner. “She’s one of those silver witches, shooting her will just make her mad!”

“Get away from me, old man!” the soldier shouts, knocking him on his back and pointing the weapon at him. “You people don’t get to tell us anything! We’re the ones in charge...”

Half his weapon falls to the ground as Helen darts in and slices it with a movement you doubt any of the humans around her could even see, then she places the edge right against the soldier’s throat.

“Regardless of our vows not to kill,” she asserts with a sharp glare, “and regardless of how these people may feel about us, we are sworn to protect them from monsters... of all shapes and sizes. You would do well to remember that.”

>Meet your other team on the way out and leave things here.
>Come out of hiding, suggest building a fire break to make SURE the town is okay.
>Suggest on the way out that the soldiers should focus on protecting the locals.
>Other?
>>
>>5193255
>>Meet your other team on the way out and leave things here.
>>
>>5193255
>>Meet your other team on the way out and leave things here.
>>
>>5193255
>>Meet your other team on the way out and leave things here.
>>
>>5193255
You decide that this is the opportune time to withdraw and regroup, since there’s very little you can do here for two reasons. The first reason of course is that it would be jarringly at odds with your previous actions to stick around for a concern over the aftermath – there’s no guarantee that anyone would appreciate it as an act of principle and every possibility that it would mean being attacked by either the soldiers or the wary locals. The second reason is that, realistically, there’s nothing you can do that anyone else here couldn’t take care of by themselves.

And while it is tempting sometimes to handle everything yourself, in this case there’s no compelling reason you can think of to stick around.

...

“Is it really okay to leave things like that?” Nessa wonders aloud after you meet them back at the hilltop copse where you first drew up your plans. You can still hear the occasional pop of a rifle round cooking off in the distance, though after a while the fire itself has started to burn out.

“Probably,” Helen shrugs. “Most towns do have a fire control plan after all, and it’s not like there was a lot of fuel between the supplies and the nearest buildings.”

“Good enough for me,” Jenna offers. “You worry too much, Nessa. Humans aren’t totally powerless you know – we’ve been dealing with fires like this for centuries.”

“She has a point,” you admit. “It’s not like the town where passing soldiers tried to execute people, where there wasn’t really anything the local people could reasonably be expected to do.”

“So what’s your next mission plan look like, Noel?” Helen wonders aloud. “I think there are a few more bridges in Sakia you haven’t destroyed yet.”

>Honestly, I’m not sure. We still don’t know what the effects of the first missions will be.
>More of the same, yes. Bridges, roads, observation posts, easily accessed supplies.
>I feel like we need to do something bold – something that will get and keep people talking.
>Other?
>>
>>5195318
>>I feel like we need to do something bold – something that will get and keep people talking.
fermenting unrest and support opposition in the occupied places
>>
>>5195318
>I feel like we need to do something bold – something that will get and keep people talking.
>>
>>5195318
>>I feel like we need to do something bold – something that will get and keep people talking.
>>
>>5195318
“I feel like all these moves of ours have been too focused,” you admit. “Too functional, with not enough... I guess the word I’m looking for is boldness? We should try to do something that will get people talking, and keep them talking.”

“Are you open to suggestions?” Helen muses.

You nod. “Of course.”

“I think part of the problem is we’re still out in the hinterlands,” she tells you. “If we were to pull off a mission right on the Organization and the Sakian royalty’s doorstep that would be all anyone talked about here for weeks.”

That’s actually quite a fair observation – rumors from distant parts of the country can be quelled more effectively through various suppression methods, like controlling the local news papers or limiting access to public places where conversations about such things happen, or by blocking the movement of people traveling towards the central cities from the periphery of the nation. And even if those rumors make it to the big cities, it’s easy to put out your own narrative which will be heard louder and more clearly over the rumors. So for most people living under the Organization’s heel it would be very easy to discount word of your exploits far to the south as mere rumor.

“I like it,” Nessa shrugs.

Jenna pops a few of her knuckles. “Hey, sounds like we can agree on that.”

“I never said I didn’t appreciate daring,” Nessa insists flatly. “Only that I don’t approve of recklessness.”

>We’ll get started scouting right away.
>Helen, would you and Nessa work on planning? I would like to back up Valentina and Justina.
>First we need to make sure the other two teams’ missions went off without trouble.
>Other?
>>
>>5196643
>>First we need to make sure the other two teams’ missions went off without trouble.
>>
>>5196643
>First we need to make sure the other two teams’ missions went off without trouble.
>>
>>5196643
>First we need to make sure the other two teams’ missions went off without trouble.
>>
>>5196643
>First we need to make sure the other two teams’ missions went off without trouble.
>>
>>5196643
>3d10 best of three
>>
Rolled 7, 9, 5 = 21 (3d10)

>>5197923
>>
Rolled 1, 7, 5 = 13 (3d10)

>>5197923
>>
Rolled 6, 1, 2 = 9 (3d10)

>>5197923
>>
>>5196643
“We should gather all four of our teams,” you decide. “First priority is making sure the other two missions go smoothly.”

“Serana and Alexa have the simplest task,” Helen muses, “but the one with greater chance for reprisals against civilians.”

“While Justina and Valentina have a really hard task,” Nessa adds. “Destroying a military post without killing anyone sounds like a real chore.”

“Noel,” Helen seemingly comes to a decision, “I would prefer that you and I head for where Justina and Valentina are. Vanessa and Jenna should assist Serana and Alexandra. Do you concur?”

“Do you expect trouble?” you ask her.

She nods. “I do. Justina and Valentina are striking a military target near the border. The enemy’s response may be swifter and more vigorous than anticipated.”

“You think Clarice may turn up?” you realize.

After a moment, Helen admits that was precisely what was on her mind. “We know she’s out there somewhere. She can’t watch all the bridges in the region, but a military command post may be an important enough spot for her to concentrate her focus.”

After considering Helen’s argument for a few seconds, you nod in agreement with her conclusion. “I don’t necessarily believe she will be there, but I agree with you that she could be there – and I can’t imagine her being in the town Serana and Alexa are in any more than I could see her being in the first town where Jenna and I completed our mission. There’s no reason for her to choose one of those towns over another.”

“Then let’s get going,” Helen declares.

...

You and Helen travel swiftly, hoping to reach the command post in time to be of any assistance. It’s around midnight when you notice Valentina and Justina’s yōki auras in the distance, and it’s not long after that when you can smell something burning. You can also see that the stars have been blotted out in a few places in the sky where smoke is rising, evidence of a fire that has been recently extinguished.

“Their handiwork?” Helen wonders aloud in the dark, well off the nearest road for your own safety. “It would make a good distraction if it was done carefully.”

“We have to assume so,” you decide. “So what do we do about it? Try to find where they would lay low after setting up a distraction, or head to their objective?”

“We could also continue causing distractions,” Helen suggests. “Though I prefer to find them and coordinate.”

>I agree. Finding them and coordinating more closely should be our top priority.
>I think we can launch the attack now. They may be planning to do the same.
>If they see us cause another distraction, they should know to make their move.
>Other?
>>
>>5198675
>I agree. Finding them and coordinating more closely should be our top priority.
>>
>>5198675
>>I agree. Finding them and coordinating more closely should be our top priority.
>>
>>5198675
>I agree. Finding them and coordinating more closely should be our top priority.
>>
>>5198675
>I agree. Finding them and coordinating more closely should be our top priority.
>>
>>5198675
You nod once. “Going around guessing doesn’t sound like a good plan to me either. We should find them first.”

...

You eventually track them down by their aura using the tried and true cooperative method of the tandem search. When two or more warriors are working together who aren’t specialized in sensing, you can actually extend your effective range and increase your precision by splitting up about as far as you can without losing track of each other, and proceeding towards where you both feel like the target is located. That way you can adjust inward based on your slightly different perceptions of distance and direction, until you’re eventually close enough that you can get a clearer impression.

“Welcome to the party,” Valentina greets you when you and Helen eventually meet up with them. “I take it your own tasks went smoothly?”

“Not exactly,” you admit, “but we worked our way through it.”

“We noticed your diversion,” Helen adds. “What is your plan from here?”

“Diversion?” Justina muses, before shaking her head. “Not quite.”

Valentina clarifies. “Justina set that fire so that I could observe the response.”

You can’t help but smile. “Clever... so what did you see?”

“Only a limited number of troops,” Valentina informs you, “none of whom actually seem to be quartered within the tower itself, which appears to be reserved for officers and the crews for the few guns located within.”

“How many?”

“Twenty. They had to send out riders to a nearby garrison to form a fire-fighting unit.”

“Interesting,” you muse thoughtfully. “That works to our advantage.”

“What are you scheming?” Helen asks with a frown.

>I’m thinking fire. If they don’t have enough men to fight a fire, that’s our key weapon.
>Let’s move to where we can see the tower. We’ll assess it for structural vulnerabilities.
>Only twenty men means we can probably enter the tower by force and take it over.
>Other?
>>
>>5200069
>>Let’s move to where we can see the tower. We’ll assess it for structural vulnerabilities.
>>
>>5200069
>>Let’s move to where we can see the tower. We’ll assess it for structural vulnerabilities.
>>
Rolled 8, 2, 6 = 16 (3d10)

King wants 3d10 rolls bo4, he's banned atm.
>>
Rolled 10, 8, 1 = 19 (3d10)

>>5200069
>>
Rolled 9, 4, 2 = 15 (3d10)

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

>>5200653
>>
>>5200069
Alright, cool. I got off the night shift early, so I'll finish writing tomorrow morning.
>>
>>5200069
“We’ll move to where we can see the tower and assess it for vulnerabilities,” you decide. “How we exploit their lack of manpower will be determined by where we can strike against the tower itself.”

“What are we looking for?” Valentina asks you.

“Anything that looks like a point we could attack,” you tell her – unhelpful, you realize, so you continue. “Windows in a position we can breach, gaps in their fields of fire, natural cover, any locations where their walls show signs of being thinner, any exposed structural elements, anything vulnerable to fire. Those sort of things.”

...

Looking over the building from the outside you can see only a handful of key vulnerabilities. The main entrance isn’t as well guarded as the defenders probably imagine, consisting of a narrow external staircase leading to a platform that can be connected or separated from the landing where the door into the building is located by means of a wooden drawbridge. The drawbridge and door together aren’t actually all that much of a deterrence to someone like you or one of your fellow warriors, and the separated staircase creates blind spots in the defensive fields of fire.

The windows are similar vulnerabilities, each being a little wider than you would choose to design them were defense your sole consideration. But far and away the worst problem you can spot is the roof. Oh by the merciful twin goddesses, the roof.

It’s wood for starters, not even proper slate, and clearly hasn’t been cleaned as often as it should be due to the number of floors above the ground it rises. It’s even designed in such a way that foreign objects that land on the roof would likely get caught by the knee walls that run around its edges.

>The gate is probably your best way inside the building. Once you’re inside, it’s over.
>The windows are the biggest vulnerability. Attack through those openings.
>If you set fire to the roof it will be slow, but the destruction of the building is inevitable.
>Other?
>>
>>5201654
>The windows are the biggest vulnerability. Attack through those openings.
Grab some documents?
>>
>>5201654
>The windows are the biggest vulnerability. Attack through those openings.
>>
>>5201654
>>The windows are the biggest vulnerability. Attack through those openings.
>>
>>5201654
>The windows are the biggest vulnerability. Attack through those openings.
>>
Rolled 6, 2, 5 = 13 (3d10)

>>
Rolled 2, 2, 8 = 12 (3d10)

>>5202399
>>
Rolled 6, 4, 8 = 18 (3d10)

>>5202399
>>
>>5201654
“The windows are the most obvious flaw in their defenses,” you decide, laying out your reasoning carefully. “They’re too low to be out of our reach and too large to be defensive. We can break and enter at any of those.”

“Gaining entry?” Helen asks curiously. “What exactly do you have in mind?”

“The arson aspect of it would be easier,” you clarify, “and we could also take the opportunity to recover any documents we spot as part of that.”

“Interesting,” Helen nods. “It would be likely that a military headquarters would have that sort of thing.”

“Any records on paper would be destroyed if we just burned the place,” Valentina agrees. “It does seem like a waste.”

“But is that our responsibility?” Justina questions.

After a few moments, you offer your reply. “I see what you’re implying,” you admit, “and you have a point – this does blur the line between Hazari needs and the typical missions of our warriors. But I believe in this case those two things overlap anyway.”

“I concur,” Helen offers. “I appreciate that this is a concern, however our regular rules as warriors did not typically cover the practicalities of war. I believe that since that is what the Organization is currently bringing to our doorstep, it is fair to conduct ourselves as though we too are fighting a war alongside Hazaran – within certain boundaries, of course.”

“Like our vows not to take human life,” Valentina nods.

After a moment, Justina seemingly relaxes. “Satisfactory.”

>Then we’ll assault the building just after dark, aiming to gather information first.
>Then we should deal with the twenty or so guards quietly first, then move into the building.
>We should repeat the strategy from before – set a fire nearby, then seize the building.
>Other?
>>
>>5203763
>>Then we’ll assault the building just after dark, aiming to gather information first.
>>
>>5204022
>>5203763
This
>>
>>5203763
>Then we’ll assault the building just after dark, aiming to gather information first.
>>
>>5203763
>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 5, 4, 10 = 19 (3d10)

>>5204959
>>
Rolled 4, 4, 5 = 13 (3d10)

>>5204959
>>
Rolled 4, 3, 4 = 11 (3d10)

>>5204959
>>
Rolled 6, 3, 3 = 12 (3d10)

>>5204959
>>
>>5204959
You spend the rest of the daylight hours available to you in preparation for the raid you know you’ll be launching just after dark. Everything has to go off just right – anything that goes wrong increases the chances of complications, anywhere from your own comrades suffering unnecessary wounds to accidentally killing humans in the process.

...

When the sun dips below the mountains, you set the plan into motion.

Swift and silent as shadows, you target an open window on the second floor. Valentina gives you a boost, basically throwing you in, while Helen does the same for Justina. Then Justina helps drag Valentina and Helen in through the window behind you, hanging from the windowsill by one hand until Helen grabs hold of her once the rest of you are in.

[Nobody saw us,] you flash hand signs to the group.

[Split into twos,] Helen suggests. [Work together to ensure we aren’t seen.]

[Understood,] Justina signs... though really, she just offers the sign for “yes” and lets you assume that’s more or less what she meant to convey. Terse even in unspoken language... that’s just how she is, but sometimes it wouldn’t hurt to get a little more out of her.

You and Valentina head in one direction, while Helen and Justina creep up the stairs that are to the right of the room you entered through.

...

You carefully avoid two men, one of whom is dressed like an officer. There’s a room at one corner of the building that looks to be an office – peeking in through the door reveals that an officer is seated at a desk and is in the process of writing.

>Wait for the officer to leave.
>Sneak in and knock the officer unconscious.
>Try to steal documents while avoiding the officer.
>Other?
>>
>>5206058
>Try to steal documents while avoiding the officer.
>>
>>5206058
>Try to steal documents while avoiding the officer.
>>
>>5206058
>Try to steal documents while avoiding the officer.
>>
>>5206058
>>Try to steal documents while avoiding the officer.
>>
>>5206058
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 4, 2, 9 = 15 (3d10)

>>5207372
>>
Rolled 9, 1, 3 = 13 (3d10)

>>5207372
>>
Rolled 7, 10, 8 = 25 (3d10)

>>5207372
>>
>>5206058
The ideal here would be to enter the office and loot it without the officer noticing your presence, which depends heavily on not producing any sounds while you’re doing it. The wooden floorboards and anything metallic you’re carrying are the two most likely sources of unwanted sound, and so you take a few steps away from the door and remove your sword from its hanger, handing it to Valentina for safekeeping. Once you’re certain that there’s no metal on your person that can bump into anything else – especially not any other metal objects – you take the additional step of removing your boots and leaving them with Valentina as well.

She stares at you in a distinct lack of amusement, but socks on floorboards will be nearly silent, and much less likely to alert anyone to your brazen attempt at theft. You even carefully tread across the room outside the office you intend to sneak into, listening closely to the floorboards and trying to estimate how far apart the support beams beneath them are. Once satisfied with your preparations, you commit to your plan and step into the office.

Carefully following the beam you know should be underfoot, and minding where your shadow is likely to be cast, you cross the room behind the officer – who is working by the outer wall in front of a window. You also need to be careful to stay low, to avoid casting a reflection in the darkened window.

It’s almost amazing that after two or three breathless moments you actually manage to reach what looks like a chest full of files, the lock for which has been left open... the officer clearly didn’t expect anything like this to happen while he was in the room, otherwise you’d have to break the lock and risk alerting anyone in any nearby rooms.

You slowly open the chest, careful to make sure that the hinges don’t squeak, and sift through the papers within.

Several marked maps. Personal letters between a ranking officer here and the officers in Sakia’s capital city. Quartermastery reports for much of the border region. Scouting reports for Hazari defenses.

It’s all here.

You grab as many letters as you can, shut the chest just as quietly as you opened it, and creep back the way you came. As you pass Valentina you gesture for her to follow you, and head up the stairs after your other team.

[Let’s go,] you tell them silently.

[Documents?] Justina asks.

[I think,] Valentina offers, glancing at you.

You nod vigorously.

[Agreed,] Helen signs, preparing one of her firebombs.
>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 4, 3, 4 = 11 (3d10)

>>5208249
Fuckin Solid Snake
>>
Rolled 1, 8, 6 = 15 (3d10)

>>5208249
>>
Rolled 10, 4, 10 = 24 (3d10)

>>5208249
>>
Rolled 8, 2, 2 = 12 (3d10)

>>5208249
>>
>>5208249
Several fire bombs find curtains, wooden floorboards, and furniture, starting to spread rapidly and quickly threatening to gut the whole building. There are two stairways which are entirely stone, meaning those are safe means of escape. In your case however speed is more important than safety, and so instead you throw yourself out a window – a maneuver the others join you in. You can hear some gunfire but you ignore it, racing through the forest until you feel like you’re far enough away from the fortification and from the main road that you won’t be pursued.

“So what did you find?” Helen asks you curiously.

>Enough that I think we need to fall back to Hazaran sooner rather than later.
>I think we can use this to plan our next moves – including the big plan we talked about.
>I think we need to learn more to confirm the information in the documents I stole.
>Other?
>>
>>5209923
>Enough that I think we need to fall back to Hazaran sooner rather than later.
>>
>>5209923
>>Enough that I think we need to fall back to Hazaran sooner rather than later.
>>
>>5209923
>Enough that I think we need to fall back to Hazaran sooner rather than later.
>>
>>5209923
>>Enough that I think we need to fall back to Hazaran sooner rather than later.
>>
>>5209923
“I think we should return to Hazaran,” you admit. “With just a cursory glance this seems like an absolute treasure trove of information.”

“You believe that is necessary?” Helen asks you carefully.

After a moment, you nod. “I do.”

“Then we shouldn’t waste time,” Helen suggests. “Let’s meet up with the others quickly.”

>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 1, 9, 10 = 20 (3d10)

>>5212202
>>
Rolled 8, 2, 4 = 14 (3d10)

>>5212202
>>
Rolled 6, 2, 8 = 16 (3d10)

>>5212202
>>
Rolled 8, 7, 3 = 18 (3d10)

>>5212202
>>
>>5212202
You head back towards the little fortress your Hazari troops erected, meeting the rest of your comrades there and explaining the situation to them.

“So I think we have no choice but to return to Hazaran as quickly as possible,” you conclude with a sigh. “There’s so much information here to break down that could inform how we deploy our resources, that it needs to get into our generals’ hands where it can be put to use.”

[So this is enough, you think?] Serana asks you curiously. [To justify the effort of coming here?]

“Disruption of supply lines is a good thing,” Valentina seems to be thinking out loud, “but it might be the case that others will take this as an example and carry on without us.”

“Maybe,” Justina shakes her head. “We just need a ‘win’, right?”

“Fair,” Nessa nods along. “From a certain perspective, the whole point is to undermine the Organization’s efforts – helping Hazaran continue handing out crushing defeats to the invading forces and negating the assets they’ve brought here does that just as much as undercutting their logistics efforts.”

[Difficult to argue with that perspective,] Serana nods once.

...

Making your way back towards the nearest pass out of Sakia and into the mountains, you travel as swiftly as your human soldiers are capable. But by the time you near the border, you get some alarming news from Serana and Alexa who you sent ahead to scout.

[A force of Organization soldiers,] Serana informs you. [Roughly equal in strength to our own.]

“They didn’t spot us,” Alexa tells you. "Could they have expected us to come this way?"

"Possible," Helen concedes.

>Good. We’ll create a diversion to allow the Hazari soldiers to break through and escape Sakia.
>That gives us the advantage. If we play our cards right we can capture them with little resistance.
>We should avoid contact at all costs. Either wait, sneak under cover of darkness, or wait them out.
>Other?
>>
>>5213384
>That gives us the advantage. If we play our cards right we can capture them with little resistance.
>>
>>5213384
>>That gives us the advantage. If we play our cards right we can capture them with little resistance.
>>
>>5213384
>That gives us the advantage. If we play our cards right we can capture them with little resistance.
>>
>>5213384
>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 10, 1, 2 = 13 (3d10)

>>5214376
>>
Rolled 3, 10, 1 = 14 (3d10)

>>5214376
ayoo
>>
Rolled 5, 10, 4 = 19 (3d10)

>>5214376
>>
Rolled 6, 1, 5 = 12 (3d10)

>>5214376
>>
>>5214376
“Then we’ll have the advantage,” you decide with a calm frown. “If we approach it with the right strategy we might be able to capture them without much resistance.”

Helen rubs her chin as she considers that. “It’s certainly possible – after all, equivalent forces are only ‘equal’ if their circumstances match. A superior tactical position can make a huge difference.”

[Then let’s make it happen,] Serana suggests immediately.



You call up the seniormost officer in your detachment for a consultation, producing a map on which you mark the key locations of forces in the area and defensive installations. “So this is what I’ve gleaned so far from the documents we stole. The unit is here, in this village.”

“Okay, so the main problem I can see,” the young officer offers, “is the threat of these invaders taking careless action inside the village.”

“Agreed,” you nod curtly. “So we have to draw them out.”

“No offense, but you and your fellow silver witches are probably the best chance we have for that,” the officer suggests.

“Also probably true,” Helen seems to agree.

“You’re working your way up to suggesting we lure these men towards this bridge visible on the map,” you suggest, “with your own men lying in wait to cover the bridge from all angles once they’re about halfway across.”

“That would be when they’d be most vulnerable, yes,” the officer confirms.

>I was thinking the same thing, actually.
>And if they don’t all take the bait at once?
>We need something better than that I think.
>Other?

>>
>>5215673
>And if they don’t all take the bait at once?
>>
>>5215673
>And if they don’t all take the bait at once?
>>
>>5215673
>>And if they don’t all take the bait at once?
>>
>>5215673
“For this to go smoothly, all the soldiers will have to take the bait,” you observe, “and they’d have to do so all at the same time. So what happens if they don’t?”

The officer frowns. “Hm. I suppose in that instance it becomes an actual battle, where we should have the advantage.”

It seems Helen doesn’t like it any more than you do. “So it devolves into shooting? Doesn’t that shift our goals too much?”

“Fair point,” Justina nods.

“Then what is your objective?” the officer inquires.

You consider it for a moment, but a moment is all it takes.

“Our objective is to get back to Hazaran,” you decide, “and tripping up the invaders’ planned movements would be a bonus.”

“Then I’m sorry, ma’am,” the officer shakes his head. “But engaging in a battle should never be considered a ‘bonus’. If that’s not our objective, then why would we engage at all?”

“Because otherwise you’d all be stuck here,” you frown. “This bridge is the way we need to take to get the documents we gathered back to Hazaran as quickly as possible, and if you want to come with us you’ll have to cross it too. So we’ll need to confront them to do that.”

>We’ll spring the trap and deal with whatever the consequences might be.
>I’ll create the distraction. Try to get your men across the bridge quickly.
>I wonder... how do the locals feel about these soldiers being in their town?
>Other?
:longcat:
:longcata:
:longcatb:
>>
>>5216676
>I’ll create the distraction. Try to get your men across the bridge quickly.
>>
>>5216676
>I’ll create the distraction. Try to get your men across the bridge quickly.
>>
>>5216676
>>I’ll create the distraction. Try to get your men across the bridge quickly.
>>
>>5216676
>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 9, 3, 8 = 20 (3d10)

>>5218134
>>
Rolled 7, 10, 6 = 23 (3d10)

>>5218134
:devil:
>>
Rolled 1, 7, 1 = 9 (3d10)

>>5218134
>>
Rolled 8, 1, 8 = 17 (3d10)

>>5218134
>>
>>5218134
“... I’ll be the distraction,” you declare. “Just be sure to get across the bridge and into position quickly.”

“I... okay,” the officer agrees.

“Good luck,” Valentina mutters. “And don’t overdo it.”

Serana shakes her head and signs a fair point. [When has she ever done that?]

...

The distraction you create is one that absolutely can’t be ignored. You’re not exactly easy to miss unless you go through a lot of trouble to hide your appearance – you’re head and shoulders taller than the average woman, with pink hair and silver eyes that really stand out in a crowd. Add to that the fact that a crown with a massive blue jewel currently graces your forehead, and a sword nearly as long as you are tall is slung across your back, and it’s hard to figure a way to be any more striking.

And you’ve appeared on the edge of town, specifically the one away from the bridge, out in the open. You’re alone, your hood is down and your cloak drawn around behind you to reveal your close-fitting armored outfit underneath as well as your vivid hair, and you’re standing tall out in the open.

“I am Noel Tiberius di Hazaran, queen of the mountain kingdom whose name I bear and former single-digit warrior of the Organization!” you boom, the power behind your voice ensuring that the whole town can probably hear. “Hear me, invaders! Who among you would claim standing to treat with me!?”

After a few moments, you hear the rumbling of mechanical engines coming to life – it sounds like all of their mechanized armor is coming your way. Good.

You can hear and catch glimpses of a number of soldiers scrambling to find positions, though one officer steps out into the open street to face you. “You are facing Colonel Micah Zant, Thirty-Second Mechanized Infantry Regiment. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I’m here to negotiate your surrender!” you insist.

Colonel Zant pauses for a moment, trying to maintain his composure. “Even if we didn’t have standing orders to kill you, we clearly have you outnumbered and outmaneuvered.”

“Hasn’t stopped me before!” you counter.

“No,” he frowns, “no I suppose not.”

>Stall for time, ask him if he knows anything about what you are.
>Stall for time with a show of force on the first armored vehicle you see.
>No, you’re right. I’m actually here to liberate this town at any cost.
>Other?
>>
>>5218598
>Stall for time, ask him if he knows anything about what you are.
>>
>>5218598
>>Stall for time, ask him if he knows anything about what you are.
>>
>>5218598
>Stall for time, ask him if he knows anything about what you are.
>>
>>5218598
>>Stall for time, ask him if he knows anything about what you are.
>>
>>5218598
“What do you know about us?” you ask curtly. “About this land you’ve invaded?”

“I could ask you a similar question,” Zant replies. “How much do you know about the rest of the world?”

“I know about the Asarakam,” you assert, crossing your arms. “Now answer my question.”

You actually don’t mind too much. This little game of his draws things out a little for you, without any extra effort on your part.

“We know this place is overrun by monsters descended from the Asarakam,” Zant tells you, “and that you silver-eyed witches are among those.”

“That’s almost entirely wrong,” you sigh. “Your own organization created monsters called yōma, which they used to create warriors like me. The whole point was to create humans capable of awakening in a controlled manner.”

“I don’t believe that.”

>Have you been to the facility on Lavinia?
>Show him.
>Other?
>>
>>5219670
>Other?
"If you were in charge, wouldn't you be tempted? The best gamekeepers are former poachers."
>>
>>5219670
>>Have you been to the facility on Lavinia?
>>Show him.
>>
>>5219670
>Have you been to the facility on Lavinia?
>Show him.
>This entire invasion is predicated on cleaning up the mess your superiors made by making man eating monsters, then make super soldiers from those and deliberately mistreating them and dehumanizing them until they snap and become even worse than Asarakam. It’s one gigantic cover up by the corrupt in power in your lands.
>>
>>5219670
>Have you been to the facility on Lavinia?
>>
>>5219670
With a sigh, you flow enough yōki into your left arm to force it to transform completely. The colonel is visibly stunned, and you hear weapons being loaded and readied to fire all up and down the street. “See what I mean?” you muse, before transforming your arm back to the way it looked before.

Then you cut your palm, and squeeze it tight to ensure that a good amount of red blood drops into the dust at your feet. “We even bleed red, though some of the ones who bleed purple can still maintain their discipline with dietary supplements.”

“You mean you have monsters eating out of the palm of your hand?” Zant demands. “How is that possible? What manner of supplements?”

“It’s a rare fungus that grows in caves here,” you insist. “It’s also found inside most people’s intestines, which is why the yōma feed on them – like deer going to a salt lick. There’s some kind of nutrient they need.”

“And how the hell should I verify any of this, assuming for a moment I don’t just decide you’re lying?” Zant presses.

“You ever wonder why you’ve never been to Lavinia?” you smirk.

His immediate response tells you that your guess was right on the mark. “How do you know that?”

“Just an educated guess,” you admit. “But my thinking was that if you went to the facility there you might find more than your leaders want you to see... you might even stumble onto some version of the truth.”

“You said you wanted to negotiate our surrender,” Zant returns to your initial comment. “What happened to that topic?”

>Oh, I mean it. You can surrender now, or later. Makes no difference to me, only to you.
>Oh, that? I was just having you on while my troops made it across the bridge safely.
>Well, what terms do you think would be acceptable? I'm a firm believer in grace in victory.
>Other?
>>
>>5220444
>>Oh, I mean it. You can surrender now, or later. Makes no difference to me, only to you.
>Make no mistake, we're TRYING to keep this from escalating. Imagine what lab made super soldiers created to fight Asarakam evenly could do if you don't believe us.
>>
>>5220444
>>5220451
support
>>
>>5220444
>Oh, I mean it. You can surrender now, or later. Makes no difference to me, only to you.
>>
>>5220444
https://youtu.be/pILlitb8Acc
>>
>>5220444
Supporting >>5220451
>>
>>5220444
“Oh, I most certainly mean it,” you assert. “Make no mistake, we’re constantly trying to keep things from escalating. Have you or any of your soldiers ever seen a full awakening?”

“No one has for a few generations,” the colonel informs you. “Not since the aftermath of the war.”

“The boost in power is unbelievable,” you explain, crossing your arms and shifting your weight slightly. “Even without tapping into that power I could probably take on your unit by myself – even if I couldn’t kill you all I could at least do a lot of damage before escaping.”

“And if you did use that power?”

“Together me and my companions could decapitate your leadership, route your forces in the open field, and drive the survivors into the sea. And we could do it in less than two weeks.”

He shakes his head in disbelief. “Do you really expect me to...”

Your sword is suddenly at your side, and three buttons from his uniform jacket fall to the ground. Your eyes, which have flashed gold for a moment, slowly shift back to their usual silver as you return your blade to its holster.

“Okay,” the colonel stares at you in shock. “Let’s say I’m... um... more willing to hear you out. What the hell was that?”

“One tenth of my maximum,” you clarify.

“I didn’t even see you move,” he admits. “And your awakening is... how much stronger than that?”

“I typically only awaken partially,” you admit, “it’s easier to control that way. But when I’m going all-out, I’d say... seven times? Maybe eight?”

There’s a long pause. “So what terms are you proposing?”

Wait... is this guy actually saying he’s ready to surrender? That’s definitely not how you expected this ploy to end, but it does present an interesting opportunity.

>Disarm and leave. Go into hiding and don’t cause any more trouble. That’s all.
>If you help us undermine your superiors’ positions, you’ll be able to go home faster.
>Just learn the truth about what your superiors have done here, and do what you think is right.
>Other?
>>
>>5221700
>Just learn the truth about what your superiors have done here, and do what you think is right.
>>
>>5221700
>Just learn the truth about what your superiors have done here, and do what you think is right.
>>
>>5221700
>Just learn the truth about what your superiors have done here, and do what you think is right.
>>
>>5221700
>Just learn the truth about what your superiors have done here, and do what you think is right.
>>
Rolled 5, 6, 4 = 15 (3d10)

>>5221700
Info from Queen, unable to mobile post
3d10 best of 4
>>
Rolled 1, 6, 2 = 9 (3d10)

>>5221700
>>
Rolled 4, 5, 8 = 17 (3d10)

>>5222093
>>
Rolled 1, 8, 3 = 12 (3d10)

>>5222093
>>
>>5222093
After a moment, the colonel turns his back to you. “You know, I only just realized you were playing me this whole time?”

“Is that so?” you muse nervously. “Okay then, so how do we proceed from here?”

“Your forces should already be across the bridge by now?”

“Yeah, should be.”

“Then pursuing them would be a trap,” the colonel muses thoughtfully. “Even if you gave them no such orders you are the queen of their nation, they’ll have set up firing positions on their own to give you cover.”

“Most likely.”

“In that case, I’ll allow you to leave,” he decides calmly. “I’ve taken your measure, Queen Noel Tiberius di Hazaran – and found you to be a woman of strong character. So while I do not know what the exact truth is, I also don’t believe you would lie outright.”

After a moment, you dip your head politely. “Thank you – I’m pleasantly surprised you even bothered to listen to me when you were under no obligation to.”

“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” the colonel grumbles, “I have some things to see to. I doubt we’ll have occasion to meet again.”

...

You make it across the bridge without incident, and reunite with your companions and your soldiers.

“What happened?” Helen presses you immediately.

“They’re not coming,” you inform her. “Their commanding officer was apparently a reasonable man – which is rare, but I guess it had to happen sooner or later.”

“And he let you reunite with us?” Valentina asks curiously. “Just like that?”

“If what he was saying was true then most of these soldiers don’t actually know why they’re here,” you suggest. “It’s consistent with what other soldiers who surrendered have said, but this is the highest ranking officer I’ve heard that response from – a colonel.”

“Sometimes it’s better to take the win and leave,” Helen sighs wearily.

>Head for Scaithness, plan your next actions there.
>Head to Daria, that’s where the offensive is bound to begin.
>Head for the capital, discuss this personally with Noventus.
>Other?
>>
>>5222571
>Head for the capital, discuss this personally with Noventus.
>>
>>5222571
>>Head for the capital, discuss this personally with Noventus.
>>
>>5222571
>Head for the capital, discuss this personally with Noventus.
>>
>>5222571
>Head for the capital, discuss this personally with Noventus.
>>
>>5222571
You elect to head for the capital where your regent – a military man himself – should be keenly interested in the material you managed to steal from the enemy.

...

In Scaithness you choose to rotate who you continue on with, to allow your current companions time to rest. Instead you decide that you would like for Lucia and Aurora to accompany you, and for the first time in a good while you take Alysheba as well. Though Lucia seems uncomfortable on horseback, she grins and bears with it the whole way and you arrive at the palace is uneventful.

You bring the documents straight to the meeting hall where you suspect you’ll catch Noventus.

...

“Queen Noel!” he starts when you enter the room, quite clearly in the middle of a more mundane meeting. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“I didn’t arrange this ahead of time,” you admit, “but our time across the border yielded some unexpected fruits.”

“Oh?” Noventus muses. “Of what sort?”

“A fairly extensive collection of military documents,” Aurora explains.

“I’d like for you to take a look at them,” you add.

Noventus gestures quickly. “We’ll adjourn for a little while, if you all don’t mind.”

...

“I see,” Noventus nods as he sifts through the documents. “This is quite the find.”

“So it’s going to help?” Lucia muses.

Noventus shakes his head. “Tactically speaking... not one bit.”

>What, you figure they’re likely to change their deployments because of the breach?
>Strategically, though? What can this tell us about their current situation and goals?
>Are you sure about that? No organization can make a tactical pivot that quickly.
>Other?
>>
>>5224070
>>What, you figure they’re likely to change their deployments because of the breach?
>>
>>5224070
>What, you figure they’re likely to change their deployments because of the breach?
>>
>>5224070
>Strategically, though? What can this tell us about their current situation and goals?
>>
>>5224070
“So you believe they’ve likely begun shifting their deployments due to the breach?” you frown. “How feasible is that in reality?”

“Insofar as it doesn’t need to be a dramatic shift, very,” Noventus tells you. “All they need to do is make sure that our documents no longer resemble the precise tactical picture.”

“And that doesn’t take much?” Aurora wonders. “I guess that makes sense.”

“But could they do it this quickly?” Lucia asks, furrowing her brow in confusion.

Noventus shakes his head. “Not quite, you’re almost right about that. But it would also take some time for us to prepare to act on this information, which in turn gives the enemy time to make those changes.”

You can’t help but sigh. “So that’s it, hm.”

“Tactically speaking, yes,” Noventus specifies. “In terms of strategic significance, perhaps not so much.”

“You think we can learn something from this?” you press.

“What, like what units have the worst readiness or something?” Aurora asks.

Noventus nods. “That, morale, supply shortages, anything and everything.”

“How long will that analysis take?” you ask.

“Two weeks for a full report,” Noventus offers.

>In the mean time we need to make preparations to act on that information.
>We can’t wait. We’ll shore up our defenses in preparation for an offensive.
>We should continue disruptive missions in the north until that information is ready.#
>Other?
>>
>>5225008
>>We should continue disruptive missions in the north until that information is ready.#
>>
>>5225008
>We should continue disruptive missions in the north until that information is ready.#
>>
>>5225008
>We should continue disruptive missions in the north until that information is ready.
>>
>>5225029
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 8, 4, 6 = 18 (3d10)

>>5225451
>>
Rolled 3, 1, 8 = 12 (3d10)

>>5225451
>>
Rolled 1, 9, 1 = 11 (3d10)

>>5225451
>>
>>5225451
“I think we should continue to disrupt the enemy’s plans in the north while that information is being prepared,” you decide. “Any suggestions from my regent would be appreciated of course.”

“I have one suggestion,” Noventus confirms what you’d hoped would be the case. “One target caught my eye – a storage depot near Daria, in the plains to the northeast. That depot would be key in any offensive to seize the Dari pass.”

“Which would paralyze any Hazari countereffort,” Aurora recognizes, quite correctly.

“Would they be able to move that sort of asset?” Lucia asks.

Noventus shakes his head. “Not quickly. And for it to be useful to any efforts to attack south of Daria it would need to remain in the same general area.”

“Its defenses would have to be increased instead,” you frown.

“That’s the risk,” Noventus muses. “To ensure you have teh best chance of succeeding you would have to leave now.”

“No time for any backup from Hazari forces,” Aurora nods along in understanding.

>We’ll come back with an ideal force, and with backup. No sense in rushing things.
>The three of us alone will move faster, and be able to strike quickly. We’re our best shot.
>We can probably recruit some of the locals to help if need be. That will go a long way.
>Other?
>>
>>5225761
>The three of us alone will move faster, and be able to strike quickly. We’re our best shot.
>>
>>5225761
>We can probably recruit some of the locals to help if need be. That will go a long way.
>>
>>5225761
>We can probably recruit some of the locals to help if need be. That will go a long way.
>>
>>5225761
Queen, banned on mobile, yada yada
3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 5, 8, 10 = 23 (3d10)

>>5227429
>>
Rolled 3, 7, 5 = 15 (3d10)

>>5227429
>>
Rolled 10, 5, 9 = 24 (3d10)

>>5227429
>>
>>5227429
“We’ll move faster with just the three of us,” you decide, “and if we need more help we can get people who are already nearby to pitch in – locals and soldiers stationed in the region.”

“Understood,” Noventus nods, flipping over a document on the desk in front of him and scratching out a few quick lines with his pen. “I will draw up orders to move forces into Daria to reinforce our positions there in case there’s a problem.”

“Thank you,” you nod curtly. “I hope that won’t be necessary though.”

...

Your team takes this journey at something approaching a sprint, riding Alysheba and the other horses hard towards the border. This means that some of the strain is taken off yourself and your comrades, though it also means that you end up leaving them in the city of Ardlui about halfway between the capital and the Dari pass – even your own long-term partner seems tired by the trip, having started to show his age a little, while the other two look about ready to collapse.

The second half of the trip you cover on foot, at speed. You can’t afford to let up the pace, not even to sleep, and only take a little water and a light snack.

...

“So that’s our objective?” Aurora muses quietly, as the three of you settle in and watch the stockpile from the top of a nearby hillside, shortly after dusk draws in the cover of ever-deepening darkness. “Seems like it’s pretty well-defended.”

“No kidding,” Lucia mutters. “Isn’t this a bit excessive?”

“It’s a major logistical center,” you sigh, “and they may have even gotten word of our previous exploits.”

There are easily a thousand fighting soldiers here, with squat towers topped with automatic firearms and what were clearly at one point several of those armored gun carriers.

“But look there,” you suggest, pointing out what you’re seeing. “What does it say about these troops that they’ve done that?”

“They’ve totally disassembled them,” Aurora realizes. “They’re using the engines for... what, exactly?”

“Heating their barracks it seems,” you muse. “They’ve moved the heavy weapons off those machines as well... the armor and tracks are just lying there rusting apparently.”

>We should move quickly. They’re clearly in no position to deal with a swift assault.
>Those guns are aimed at Daria. We should do something about that as well, and soon.
>This will take some planning. Local fighters should be keen to deal with those guns.
>Other?
>>
>>5228020
>Those guns are aimed at Daria. We should do something about that as well, and soon.
>>
>>5228020
>>Those guns are aimed at Daria. We should do something about that as well, and soon.
>>
>>5228020
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 3, 9, 7 = 19 (3d10)

>>5229122
>>
Rolled 2, 8, 3 = 13 (3d10)

>>5229122
>>
Rolled 2, 9, 8 = 19 (3d10)

>>5229122
>>
>>5229122
“Those guns pointed at Daria are the real problem,” you decide. “Even if we destroyed the materiel stored here, they’ll just fire on Daria as retribution without a single thought.”

“And it’d make it hard for any of our possible allies to come in and help us with an attack,” Aurora adds. “Those fast-firing guns are probably out here too.”

“So destroy the guns, then call in our support,” Lucia muse.

>I’ll have you raise our allies in town, Lucia. Be ready for our signal.
>We’ll concentrate on the guns ourselves, then withdraw and regroup.
>Aurora and I will attack the guns, Lucia – take advantage and hit the supplies.
>Other?
>>
>>5229243
>Aurora and I will attack the guns, Lucia – take advantage and hit the supplies.
>>
>>5229243
>>Aurora and I will attack the guns, Lucia – take advantage and hit the supplies.
>>
>>5229243
>Aurora and I will attack the guns, Lucia – take advantage and hit the supplies.
>>
>>5229243
>Aurora and I will attack the guns, Lucia – take advantage and hit the supplies.
>>
>>5229243
“We’ll deal with the guns,” you decide. “Lucia, you use the chaos Aurora and I are about to create to destroy as much of the supplies as you can. Look for powder stores and set them alight.”

...

Your assault is all-out, carried by both a determination to provide the most distraction for Lucia as you can and by a near-desperation to protect the new citizens of Hazaran from the implicit threat presented by the Organzation’s troops having an encampment here, with their guns trained on the city.

“I am Noel Tiberius di Hazaran!” you bellow, your voice carrying far in the cool, crisp night air. “How dare you aim these weapons at my subjects!? By morning you will wish you had them aimed at me instead!”

You slash at the nearest cannon with your sword, while Aurora uses her own ability to pierce the eyes of every soldier who has turned to face you – which is damn near all of them after that pronouncement of yours. There’s a lot of frantic screaming and cursing as rounds completely miss you, the shooters every bit as blinded by the sudden darkness that follows the sudden light.

Awakening your arm lets you smash three soldiers with one swing, tossing them about like ragdolls even as they struggle to find a way to fight back in the confusion. You use your massive strength to pull up the next gun from its mount and throw it like a spear a short distance downhill where it sticks into the ground barrel-first.

Aurora continues to use her bright flashes of yōki to disorient the defenders, as well as helping you keep the riflemen at bay for long enough to complete the mission at hand.

By the time you’ve destroyed the last gun, the explosions tell you that Lucia has managed to complete her own task. But you’re not quite done sowing chaos throughout the encampment. Now that you stop to think about it, this tendency they have to take out their failures on local civilians really can’t go without correction.

The engines that these soldiers have been using to fuel their barracks are the next to go. You torch their fuel stores personally, ensuring that they won’t be able to run them for long. Next you go so far as to smash a few of them apart with your blade for good measure.

Only then are you done.

...

“Are you sure you should’ve done that?” Aurora muses. “Couldn’t they turn on Daria in search of supplies?”

“It would be a mistake,” you frown. “Daria has its own police force after all, with weapons and food and water. Right now Daria has everything these soldiers need, and without having those things themselves the soldiers have no way of obtaining them by force.”

“Still, I’m a bit nervous myself,” Lucia admits.

>Then we’ll stay in Daria tomorrow night. I’ve been meaning to meet with Vigilus anyway.
>No need to be. The Organization’s forces will run home with their tails tucked, for certain.
>We could probably find a few ways to break their spirits even more if that helps.
>Other?
>>
>>5230413
>Then we’ll stay in Daria tomorrow night. I’ve been meaning to meet with Vigilus anyway.
>>
>>5230413
>Then we’ll stay in Daria tomorrow night. I’ve been meaning to meet with Vigilus anyway.
>>
>>5230413
>Then we’ll stay in Daria tomorrow night. I’ve been meaning to meet with Vigilus anyway.
>>
>>5230413
>3d10 best of four
>>
Rolled 9, 1, 9 = 19 (3d10)

>>5230911
>>
Rolled 9, 2, 5 = 16 (3d10)

>>5230911
>>
Rolled 8, 6, 6 = 20 (3d10)

>>5230911
>>
Rolled 5, 1, 2 = 8 (3d10)

>>5230911
>>
>>5230911
“Then we’ll remain here,” you decide. “Well, not right here. In Daria... I had reason to speak with Vigilus as it is.”

...

[Welcome back,] Vigilus signs to you quickly, despite clearly being disoriented by having been awakened by explosions. [I assume you and yours were responsible for that?]

He gestures at the flames still visible in the distance.

You glance in that direction, then turn back to him. [Of course.]

[Good riddance,] Vigilus shrugs. [You need a place to stay.]

That wasn’t a question. [That’s true. These are my comrades Aurora and Lucia.]

[Hello,] Lucia greets him with a polite bow.

Vigilus bows back. [So what is it the three of you seek here?]

[What says we’re searching for anything?] Aurora replies silently.

[Noel is always thinking at least one step ahead,] Vigilus muses.

You nod. [We were concerned about reprisals.]

[Justifiably so,] Vigilus agrees. [What are your thoughts?]

>I want to mobilize the local guard to mount a defense, and you can help me do that.
>We should strike tomorrow at first light, take advantage of the shift in momentum.
>I would like your help in negotiating a settlement with the survivors tomorrow morning.
>Other?
>>
>>5231370
>I would like your help in negotiating a settlement with the survivors tomorrow morning.
>>
>>5231370
>I would like your help in negotiating a settlement with the survivors tomorrow morning.
>>
>>5231370
>>I would like your help in negotiating a settlement with the survivors tomorrow morning.
>>
>>5231370
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 8, 6, 9 = 23 (3d10)

>>5232357
>>
Rolled 5, 8, 7 = 20 (3d10)

>>5232357
>>
Rolled 7, 10, 9 = 26 (3d10)

>>5232357
>>
>>5232357
[I’d like your help in negotiating a settlement,] you tell Vigilus. [Tomorrow morning.]

[Why do you imagine my help would be...] Vigulus muses. [Helpful?]

The vocabulary available to you in conversations like this is sometimes a little limited. A lot of this process has always been interpretive, which is something you’ve gotten good at over the years. Plenty of opportunity.

You and your companions take it in turns to rest through the night, with Aurora volunteering to take the first watch to ensure that there is no immediate retribution against Daria by the troops whose facilities you just ruined.

...

At the end of your watch, as the sun is just starting to rise, you rouse your comrades and meet with Vigilus in the courtyard just as the youngest monks begin taking their breakfast in preparation for bell training. [Shall we?] he asks you, gesturing with the hand that isn’t holding a cup of some kind of steaming herbal liquid.

...

“Ah, this is always strange,” Vigilus admits to your hoarsely. “The last time we spoke... it took me two days... to get ready.”

“So you’re having to do it on a short time frame,” you muse. “Will you be ready?”

“Probably.”

“Well, that’s better than a no,” Aurora shrugs.

“You speak?” Lucia asks curiously.

“On rare occasion,” Vigilus clarifies. “With others who cannot understand.”

...

The camp is still shrouded in a thin smoke that’s settled in, and you can start to see the damage you caused last night. There’s been some attempt to recover the cannons, but to little effect – they’re all so badly damaged that they’ll have to be substantively rebuilt. None of the engines are running either, and several of them look to be non-functional, while their supplies have been utterly destroyed. None of the soldiers seem like they have any sense of purpose – some mill about aimlessly, while others are just lying in the grass, or in shallow trenches.

“Is there anyone here to parlay?” you demand loudly.

An officer walks toward you.
>1/2
>>
>>5232357
“We surrender,” he offers, obviously exhausted. “Our weapons and most of our ammo are gone, our fuel was running low before you burned the rest of it, our water’s been contaminated, and most of our food burned too.”

“Very well,” you agree. “I understand that complicates your position, but an immediate surrender is... unexpected.”

“Well, we were told you silver-eyed witches were bloodthirsty killers,” the officer confesses. “Command’s pet witch seemed to confirm that. But the three of you could’ve killed us all last night, only you didn’t. That means I figure you might just let our wounded receive treatment in town.”

“And if that’s true, you figured it’d be worth the risk,” Aurora muses. “You’re incredibly naive, you know that?”

“Not in a bad way,” Lucia admits.

“Desperation can change the math,” Vigilus smiles knowingly. “You speak with Queen Noel Tiberius di Hazaran.”

“Hi,” you nod. “My companion here is head of the most influential monastic order in Sakia, a city known for its many sacred monastic orders. And it’s his town, not mine.”

“Then by the names of the twin goddesses, I swear...” Vigilus begins, “... your wounded shall be treated.”

“You share a version of our faith?” the officer wonders aloud. “I have questions for later. And what of the terms of our surrender?”

Vigilus gestures back to you. Ah.

“So the politicking you leave to me,” you sigh.

>You’ll be interned here. You’ll receive basic rations of food, water, and medical supplies, in exchange for your labor. Nothing hazardous of course.
>I intend to split your unit up, and keep them all under house arrest within Hazaran. That’s purely a security consideration on our part, and non-negotiable.
>I think returning your people to your own homeland should be the eventual goal. Any arrangements should support that above anything else.
>Other?
>>
>>5233036
>You’ll be interned here. You’ll receive basic rations of food, water, and medical supplies, in exchange for your labor. Nothing hazardous of course.
>>
>>5233036
>I think returning your people to your own homeland should be the eventual goal. Any arrangements should support that above anything else.
Continue sowing the seeds of doubt on the other side.
>>
>>5233072
>>5233036
I am with this anon, there has to be a long term plan and this islands situation is complicated enough that keeping prisoners of war for long raises to many problems
>>
>>5233036
>I think returning your people to your own homeland should be the eventual goal. Any arrangements should support that above anything else.
>>
>>5233036
“As a nation which respects the value and dignity of human life, Hazaran will take in any asylum-seekers from the continent,” you declare. “But as queen, my goal is to repatriate all other captured soldiers as soon as that becomes feasible.”

“You mean you’d send us home?” the officer asks, clearly in disbelief. “After all of this?”

“Well, barring certain higher-ranked officers in cases where abuse of civilians can be proven,” you shrug. “Aside from those few cases yes, I would rather send you all home. Most of you have been lied to in the first place, and of course harsh treatment of prisoners means soldiers will fight harder to avoid being in that position.”

“A reasonable amount of compassion and mercy serves everyone here.”

“I follow your reasoning,” the officer nods. “In the immediate term, what does that mean for us?”

“It means send your wounded into town,” you decide. “You may send litter-bearers, and two may remain there as guards. Aurora, Lucia, please escort them.”

“Got it, Noel,” Aurora smiles. “And just so you guys know, any funny stuff ends with a beating.”

“One more thing,” you frown. “There’s something we’ll need brought here from town. Can you please see to it?”

...

Once the wounded have been evacuated, you remain together with Vigilus and the ranking officer. In a nice flat spot in the ruins of their encampment, you and Vigilus wait for Lucia to return with the rugs you asked for. Eventually she and the soldiers who were selected as litter-bearers arrive with the rugs, none of which are especially fine, which they throw out according to your own orders to form a seating area. Then you position cushions, five of them, in two staggered rows. One for the commanding officer of the post with whom you’ve been speaking, and one for his designated second in command. One for you on a small wooden platform barely larger than the cushion, with one for Lucia over your right shoulder where she can take notes, and one to your left for Vigilus.

Your sword and Lucia’s you each set at your side.

“This is a traditional Hazari practice,” you declare, explaining the situation in clear terms. “Seated here in this fashion, our words and decisions carry the full weight of Hazari law. A written record will be maintained by both parties.”

“I am Noel Tiberius di Hazaran, queen regnant of this land. Please state your names and ranks for the record.”

“I am Vigilus, elder of the monasteries of Daria,” Vigilus manages to croak out.

“My name is Lucia,” Lucia adds. “Former warrior of the Organization based in Lavinia. Serving as scribe, I guess.”
>1/2
>>
>>5234062
“My name is Lucius Klemel,” the ranking officer declares across from you, mindful of the fact that you’re elevated about three inches over him as well as what that implies about your relative negotiating positions. “Captain, Third Battalion, 202nd Drakenlanz Mechanized Infantry.”

His junior officer, a man with a clean-shaven head and an eyepatch, speaks up in his turn. “Friederik Jargar, first sergeant, 202nd DMI.”

>My primary concern is in accountability – keeping track of surrendered soldiers and their condition. How do you reply?
>This whole invasion is a massive problem, particularly because we know so little about the invaders. We need information.
>For the record, we should discuss your intelligence briefings. Determine the degree to which you’ve been misled, intentionally or otherwise.
>Other?
>>
>>5234064
>>For the record, we should discuss your intelligence briefings. Determine the degree to which you’ve been misled, intentionally or otherwise.
>>
>>5234064
>This whole invasion is a massive problem, particularly because we know so little about the invaders. We need information.
>>
>>5234064
Start with names, to start off easy, then go to
>For the record, we should discuss your intelligence briefings. Determine the degree to which you’ve been misled, intentionally or otherwise.
And then
>This whole invasion is a massive problem, particularly because we know so little about the invaders. We need information.
>>
>>5234064
“This whole war has been nothing but trouble,” you admit. “What we need most is information, and we struggle to get it wherever we can. Let’s start with a question you have no reason to refuse answering – what were you told during your intelligence briefings?”

Captain Klemel seems confused at first. “Why would you be interested in that?”

“Because it can be hard to tell how many of you are fighting under false pretense,” you clarify, “and what pretenses those actually are in each case.”

The captain exchanges a glance with his sergeant, who nods in affirmation. “I don’t think answering her question violates any rules we haven’t already violated, sir.”

“Clarify something...” Vigilus starts, before finishing his thought with hand signals.

The captain stares at Vigilus, then at you. “Is he okay?”

“He wants to know what ‘rules’ you’ve already violated,” you translate. “Honestly, I’m curious too.”

“Well, we surrendered,” Klemel explains, “so that’s one mark against us. We’re also speaking with you, and the others like you, which is prohibited. That’s two marks against us.”

“So you’re not allowed to surrender, and you’re not allowed to speak with the only people who could set the literal record straight,” you summarize. “Yeah, that sounds like how the Organization we know operates.”

“We were all given different briefings at different levels,” Captain Klemel informs you, mirroring a story you’ve heard already. “Command-tier officers were briefed on the monsters you’d call yōma, and we were told you control them like attack dogs. We were also told to expect nothing but brutality from the silver-eyed witches, that you terrorized the civilian population and ruled whole nations through fear.”

“Okay, so one of those things was right,” you admit. “I do rule a nation, but not through fear. What did they tell you yōma were?”

“We were told all the monsters and witches here were related to the asarakam,” Klemel tells you.

“Were you told that the Organization created the yōma as well as the ‘witches’ as an experiment in human awakening?”

Klemel and Jargar both stare at you and reply in unison. “What?”

“Neither was the last unit we encountered,” you shrug, “so it’s not surprising. That unit was led by a Colonel Zant.”

“Zant?” Klemel repeats. “From the 82nd?”

“He didn’t give me a unit number,” you shake your head. “But we reached an agreement. He seemed somewhat disturbed at all the details he wasn’t told.”
>1/2
>>
>>5235272
“Is that so,” Klemel grimaces. “I always suspected under that hardass facade there was an independent streak.”

“So it definitely sounds like you were fed the same pack of lies as everyone else to start,” you declare. “Anything more recent we should know about?”

[Such as how your commanders have responded to the string of battlefield setbacks,” Vigilus signs.

“He wants to know what your commanders have said about their losses in the field,” you summarize.

“We were told you routinely killed survivors,” Jargar offers.

You shake your head. “Not killing humans is one of the rules the Organization imposed on us, so they should know better. It’s one of the few rules we kept.”

“Yeah, what we’ve seen so far doesn’t line up with the whole ‘no survivors’ thing,” Klemel admits. “It feels kinda silly that any of us believed that – if you never left any survivors where would the stories come from?”

“Presumably from cowards who threw down their arms and hid,” you shrug. “In any event yes, that one was a lie as well.”

>Tell me about your comrades’ morale. How well is your army holding itself together?
>I’d like to know where all the supplies we torched came from, and how they got here.
>What’s the status of the blockade around our island? Is there any way we can run it?
>Other?
>>
>>5235300
>Tell me about your comrades’ morale. How well is your army holding itself together?
>>
>>5235300
>Tell me about your comrades’ morale. How well is your army holding itself together?
>>
>>5235300
>>Tell me about your comrades’ morale. How well is your army holding itself together?
>>
>>5235300

>What’s the status of the blockade around our island? Is there any way we can run it?
>>
>>5235300
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 4, 7, 9 = 20 (3d10)

>>5237352
>>
Rolled 2, 6, 4 = 12 (3d10)

>>5237352
>>
Rolled 10, 10, 8 = 28 (3d10)

>>5237352
>>
>>5237352
“So, morale among your forces,” you muse. “How are things? Are most of your comrades buying into the lies that your commanders are telling you?”

“For the most part,” the captain admits. “Though that does seem to vary.”

“I was never sure,” the sergeant shrugs. “I always suspected they were trying to cover up for poor results in the field – but never that our whole reason for being here was a false pretense.”

“In any event there have been a lot of problems,” Captain Klemel continues. “Supply shortages, logistical vulnerabilities, tensions with the locals.”

“Most of us really thought we’d be welcomed as liberators,” Sergeant Jargar confesses. “Course that turned out to be a joke, didn’t it?”

“I’m not laughing,” Lucia mutters.

Jargar shrugs. “Neither are we.”

“Is the resolve to fight weakening, in your opinion?”

“Your question is pushing it a little,” Captain Klemel admits with a frown.

“If the invading force gives up the fight, fewer lives will be at risk,” you declare. “On all sides. But for that to happen your side will have to become a part of the solution.”

“It would be... humane,” Vigilus adds in agreement.

There’s a long pause. “It may take a while still,” he finally replies, “but once it becomes clear our supposed enemies treat us better than our superiors, or anyone at home? Things are likely to go that way. That’s part of why our superiors are looking for any way they can find to end this quickly.”

>Do you know what they’re considering?
>What ideas have they already rejected?
>What is the status of the blockade around this island?
>Other?
>>
>>5237707
>What ideas have they already rejected?
>>
>>5237707
>Do you know what they’re considering?
>What ideas have they already rejected?
>>
>>5237707
>What is the status of the blockade around this island?
>>
>>5237707
“I suspect that asking you what their plans are would be asking too much from you,” you reason aloud, and the silent nod of agreement from the captain is enough to tell you that you’re correct in that assumption. “So would you agree to tell us a few of the ideas they rejected?”
>3d10, best of three
>>
Rolled 2, 9, 5 = 16 (3d10)

>>5238576
>>
Rolled 10, 1, 10 = 21 (3d10)

>>5238576
>>
Rolled 7, 10, 4 = 21 (3d10)

>>5238576
>>
>>5238576
Both men seem reluctant to speak, as though weighing it in their heads without openly discussing it. How much should they say? How much can they say before it becomes the same as telling you everything up front? How little can they get away with saying before the whole exercise becomes meaningless? You’ve asked them to play a delicate balancing game and you know it. You know it, but you’re not sure that they know you know.

“You can choose not to answer.”

“What they’d call ‘mass depopulation’ was rejected as a plan,” Jargar begins.

“As were invasions of the other kingdoms,” Klemel assures you.

“Oh, and the general who suggested a negotiated settlement was relieved of duty,” Jargar muses, “you remember that?”

“It was just after the attack on our cruisers,” Klemel recalls thoughtfully, “yeah, I remember it well.”

“Anything else?” you ask curiously. “Because we seem to be on a roll – no mass murder, no negotiation, which rules out the worst and best case scenarios.”

“Well, there was one other detail,” Jargar muses, furrowing his brow in deep contemplation. “But I’m not completely sure it’s a good idea to share it.”

His commanding officer spares him a confused look. “Wait, what could have you on the fence, James?”

After a moment, the sergeant sighs wearily. “It’s just a rumor I heard before we deployed out here, but I’d heard that apparently someone up above our paygrade wanted to double the number of ships in the blockade, and that got refused.”

>Perfect. I want to know more about that blockade – the better to get you all home of course.
>Why is there a blockade in effect, and how long has it been maintained for? Do you even know?
>Did you happen to overhear what the reason for that rejection might have been?
>Other?
>>
>>5238757
>Why is there a blockade in effect, and how long has it been maintained for? Do you even know?
>>
>>5238757
>Why is there a blockade in effect, and how long has it been maintained for? Do you even know?
>>
>>5238757
>>Why is there a blockade in effect, and how long has it been maintained for? Do you even know?
>>
>>5238757
>>Why is there a blockade in effect, and how long has it been maintained for? Do you even know?
>>
>>5238757
“I want to know more about this blockade,” you insist. “How long has it been there? What was its original purpose? Have you even been told anything about it?”

The captain frowns, clearly thinking to himself about something. What that something is isn’t clear to you until he speaks up. “I’ve honestly never given it any thought, but I think that the Lavinia naval base has been a station for around a hundred years.”

A full century... your homeland has been under blockade for a century without even realizing it. How many sailors ran afoul of those picketing warships before they stopped going out that far? How many deaths has the Organization been responsible for that will never be known, for which there will never be any earthly reckoning?

“That bothers you?” Jargar reads your darkened expression.

“I was just wondering how many people have died because they had no idea the blockade was even there,” you admit.

“Probably a lot,” Klemel tells you. “A hundred years is a long time.”

“Can you tell me more about the types of warship that serve as part of the blockade?” you ask. “We already know in broad strokes what the continent’s technology looks like – steam engines, armor plating, explosive shells. We’ve also seen what sort of damage ships used by the Organization can cause to solid metal armor.”

“Our faction has long been at the cutting edge,” Klemel explains. “Especially in the area of metallurgy. The armor on our warships is a more modern cemented style which is rare in the navies of other seagoing nations, and our cannons fire shells that are constructed differently.”

“How so?” you ask. “I assume it’s not something we could likely replicate, and we know that our swords are also incredibly advanced, so honestly you won’t be giving away any useful information.”
>3d10, best of four
>>
Rolled 6, 8, 5 = 19 (3d10)

>>5240478
>>
Rolled 5, 6, 1 = 12 (3d10)

>>5240478
>>
Rolled 7, 3, 2 = 12 (3d10)

>>5240478
>>
Rolled 1, 1, 2 = 4 (3d10)

>>5240478
>>
>>5240478
“Well, I guess you have a point,” the captain admits. “Several as a matter of fact. Okay, so the shells our ships use have a hardened conical point backed with a softer cap to absorb some of the impact. Part of the problem with trying to use explosive shells against hardened metal armor is that the armor will often break up the explosive shell.”

That sounds nasty – if it came right down to it you doubt that any combat force available to you from this part of the would could possibly face the Organization on even terms. Their defensive technology is too far ahead of the stone walls and thin iron shells over wooden frames that are within your reach, and their weapons are designed to defeat those defenses. You and warriors like you are able to face their armored units in hit-and-run attacks, and you’re able to make mountain passes impassible to their armored columns, but in a fair fight you’d lose.

You have to wonder, is it even possible to reach some level of parity with them?

>That will be all. We should move on to deciding our terms.
>Do you think that we could evacuate you past the blockade?
>I have more questions – about Clarice in particular.
>Other?
>>
>>5241064
>I have more questions – about Clarice in particular.
>>
>>5241064
>>I have more questions – about Clarice in particular.
>>
>>5241064
>>I have more questions – about Clarice in particular.
>>
>>5241064
>I have more questions – about Clarice in particular.
>>
>>5241064
>3d10 best of four
>>
Rolled 7, 3, 6 = 16 (3d10)

>>5241737
>>
Rolled 6, 3, 10 = 19 (3d10)

>>5241737
>>
Rolled 1, 10, 1 = 12 (3d10)

>>5241737
>>
Rolled 5, 10, 7 = 22 (3d10)

>>5241737
>>
Rolled 2, 3, 9 = 14 (3d10)

>>5241737
>>
>>5241737
“There is one more topic I want to question you about,” you admit. “You mentioned ‘command’s pet witch’, if I recall your phrasing correctly... can you tell me what her name was?”

“Easy, Clarice,” Jargar replies immediately.

Klemel glances at him in surprise. “You remembered anything about that monster?”

“My kid sister’s name is Claire,” Jargar shrugs. “So I had a hard time believing their names could come from the same roots.”

“She stalks around the central command complex like she owns the damn place,” Klemel continues. “Damn near killed a man one day for bumping into her by accident.”

“Why do your commanders keep a wild dog like her around anyway?” you ask with a frown.

Lucia seems to be struggling with that too. “It seems like it would cause more harm than good.”

“Yeah, but she’s the only one who can kill...”

Jargar glances at his commanding officer nervously.

“... other witches,” Klemel finishes his thought, having realized what he’d started to say.

“We already suspected that was the case,” you admit. “You can confirm this?”

“She brought back one of their swords, and a head,” Jargar recalls with a sour expression. “Put it up for display.”

>Help us kill Clarice and you’ll be doing the whole damn world a service.
>I wish to negotiate with your superiors directly. How would one arrange that?
>Tell us where your command compound is and we can end this stupid war.
>Other?
>>
>>5242156
>>Tell us where your command compound is and we can end this stupid war.
>>
>>5242156
>Tell us where your command compound is and we can end this stupid war.
>>
>>5242156
>Tell us where your command compound is and we can end this stupid war.