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The stench is pervasive. A rotting, fishy miasma that oppresses your every thought with its unrelenting presence, despite having no tenable origin.

The pale-green, nacreous sky is pervasive. Its sickly color stains everything in sight and stretches endlessly, dulling the horizon’s edge.

The cold is pervasive. It infects your blood, sending its biting sting deep within your body and clings to you with each amorphous, discolored snowflake.


You’ve spent the last few days in this fishing town on the eastern terminus of the poorly defined Velika Wilds. Its imposing and utilitarian buildings stand like ash-soaked candles of varied height. The older the building, the more closely it melts into the ground, sloughing off soiled snowdrifts as tallow. On the shapeless paved paths between these figures lie thick veins of ice tinged with subtle hues of blue and green.

The winter months assault this land far more fiercely than most others and stand in stark contrast to the mild cool that winter brings Pora Elinu and even the winter found in Velika. A potent mixture of sea-borne winds and exposed terrain leaves the town of Impel constantly at the mercy of impetuous sleet.

Each step you take runs the risk of slipping into the network of slick vessels underfoot. Yet, you must move with the same vague urgency that as all other cloaked figures or chance attracting unwanted attention to yourself.

Every exposed part of your flesh certainly agrees with this hurried approach, but eyes made bleary from the windy chill results in a singularly unpleasant balancing act.

Despite your efforts, you sense eyes linger upon your form longer than they should.

Your investigation into disappearances of Elin within the massive city of Velika is what brought you here. Strange and unmistakable threads connect the two places via similar occurrences of unique body mutilation. Locals from a village further south found a corpse washed ashore with a mismatched head and torso yet connected much like two heat-fused pieces of glass. While only a rumor, consistent details about how the two body parts melded seamlessly into one another appear again and again. The waters here have a current that flows from north to south, and the position of the town leaves this place as the most likely origin of the body.

This is paired with the increasing disappearances of Elin with only an odd body part to be found or similarly disassembled corpses of humans only rarely heard mentioned. The cases regarding Elin are certainly no secret, with idle chatter facetiously attributing it to nighttime encounters or attempted crimes gone deservedly wrong. However, the city guard is making significant effort to conceal the cases regarding humans, as to “not cause a panic.” Despite it being the locus for the crimes against your kind, making investigative headway there has proven frustratingly fruitless there.

These occurrences are far removed from the concerns of the locals in Impel. The brutal winter has made traversing the coastline a much more hazardous endeavor. Those fishing vessels brave enough to venture onto those waters, and lucky enough to return are reporting inexplicably diminished catches, even for this rough sea. Many bloated corpses of malformed fish have washed ashore as well, with blackened eyes and distorted bodies covered in buboes. Rumor goes that they will make you terribly ill if you attempt to eat them.

But, oblivious to the local’s daily concerns, the kitchens of the prosperous capital voraciously demand the indigenous seafood and can easily outspend any local for any clean catch. Traffic on the rough path between here and the capital takes most of the haul away and brings back very little.


A terrible circumstance most keenly felt by the poor majority of humans and devan laborers in this town. But, hopes for relief come via whispers of a Sanctuary.

With the goal of finding the origin and truth behind the mismatched corpse and investigate more about this Sanctuary, you plod ahead into the bowels of this numbing cold land.

Your companions should be joining you soon, so…here’s hoping they can handle this winter.


(Previous Thread)


(Character sheets)

(Combat Rules)
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“Mmmmmm! It’s so tasty!” Your companion squirms in delight at the final course of dessert for this extensive meal. She pulls the plate close to her and kicks up her feet on table. “You really know how to treat a girl, Luca!”

The painstaking craft of the dessert almost makes it a shame to eat, yet she does with as much hesitation as drinking a cup of water.

You place your hand over your eyes. “Yeah? And who exactly said that I was treating you? If anything, you should be the one cover this meal.”

She waves you off dismissively. “It’s not about that. Despite the cost of this being nothing to me, that’s not how this exchange goes.” She points at you with her small dessert fork. “You give me the feeling of being treated out by a good-looking man, let me partake in this multi-course meal in your company, and then you’re free to ask me for whatever favor you really brought me out here for.” She flashes you a refined, but devious smile. “Isn’t that right, Luca?”

Nobles are such a pain in the ass…

You let out an exasperated sigh. “This exchange takes two, you know. Mentioning it outright ruins the game, and not to mention…” You make it obvious that you’re eying her clothing. “I’d prefer girls to actually wear a dress, as this custom would dictate after all. Isn’t that right, Seo?”

You eye her overall rough exterior of tight-fitting clothes more suited for a thief than a noble girl. Her dark hair messily tied up as if it's something that needs to be restrained, leaves her vibrant eyes unconcealed. Despite this, she carries herself with an unmistakable air of refinement. She'd be quite the catch if she acted more like a lady...

She snorts derisively. “Well, that’s certainly not going to happen, so get on with whatever you want to ask of me.” She instinctively motions for one of the servers to top off her tea.

You shake your head as you grab the teapot kept within arm’s reach and motion for her cup. “The whole city of Velika isn’t your chateau, Seo.” You finish and brusquely place the teapot back down. “I thought would the number of “adventures” you partake in you would know such a fact.”

She seems amused at your retort and motions for you to continue.

“I was hoping that you would have interest in going on an actual mission with me, instead of those outings you go on with a retinue of your father’s trained fighters and servants doing most of the work.” You reach into your nearby satchel and pull out a map of the eastern continent. You flatten it onto the table and point to your target. “Impel, a coastal fishing town several days hard ride northeast.”

“Hmm?” She makes a bemused noise. “I’m not sure which lord holds dominion over the wilds. It doesn’t matter…Pray tell Luca, why would you ever want to go there?”

You shake your head. “The location is not of my choosing, but rather the choice of who would be our leader for this mission. She needs assistance in investigating the area-”

"Oh?" She cuts you off with intrigue in her voice. "Now this might be interesting, if nothing else to see this woman that can lead you around by the nose."

You take a long drink from your own cup before continuing. "Listen you. No one is leading anyone by the nose here. I'm...duty bound to fulfill my grandfather's promise. Elewyn is her name, and she apparently saved my grandfather's life when he was around my age."

Her face has clearly loss interest. "Oh, helping some elderly woman...Well, continue." She turns her focus back toward her mostly eaten dessert.

You laugh to yourself. She may be old, but based off what your grandfather told you about Elin, she is by no means elderly. That said, you don't ever recall hearing how Seo felt about non-humans. Most nobles have an outward hostility to them, but Seo is certainly not like most nobles.

>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.

>Leave that fact hidden for now.

>Write in.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to the second arc of Elin Veteran Quest.

If you're new here, and are interested in reading the events preceding this thread, please find the links to the archives up above.

Regardless of how long you've been around, I'm more than willing to answer any questions that you may have about the story, setting, quest mechanics, etc.

With that, I'm looking forward to working with you all!
>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>>>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>Explain that Elewyn isn't a human.
>But leave out that she's an Elin

Glad to see this again!
>Don't hide your grin. Egg her on the "elderly" part, but let her figure it out herself.
Wonder if they're being eavesdropped on
Glad to be writing this again!

Alright, let's see what we have:


>Explaining that Elewyn isn't a human along with:

>For the moment leaving out that she is a Elin, and egging her on about the elderly notion.


Revealing the truth is for the best, but you’ll have to test the waters first. It’s certainly how she would approach it if she were in your position.

You don’t even bother hiding your grin and lean back in your seat. “Elderly? You’ve been spending too much time around your fellow nobles that your perspective is tinged blue and gray.”

Seo stops with her fork in the middle of the air. “Oh? Gray and blue you say? Blue is a general slight toward me, but gray…”

She pauses for a while in thought. “Hmph, either you lied about this leader of yours being old or you’re deceiving me now.”

You cock an eyebrow up. “Oh? Resorting to calling me a liar must mean that you’re lacking in imagination. Can’t buy that I suppose.”

It’s good to piss her off a little bit to egg her on. Since hardly anyone else will talk back to her, it not only keeps her grounded, but also engaged. Let her figure out what you’re trying to tell her on her own.

She stuffs the last piece of her dessert in her mouth before slamming her plate back down on the table. “Alright, smart ass… You’re never this smug when you lie, let me bother to use an iota of my brain to figure out your little secret. This Elewyn, not elderly, but was still old enough to save your ancient grandfather when he was a boy like you…” Her eyes finally light up. “Sounds inhuman…I wasn’t aware that you fancied such things.”

“If you didn’t use up so much of your brain fantasizing about such depraved scenarios, then perhaps you’d have more than an iota to use for everything else.” You finish off your tea and lightly return the cup to the table. “But you’re correct about her not being human. Well done.”

She played her part just as you imagined.

With a smug grin, Seo does a half-hearted mock bow. “Thank you for the dance.”

It’s all a game after all.

She motions for yet another plate of a different dessert, which unfortunately the server acknowledges. “But you still haven’t told me everything. If this leader of yours isn’t a human then what exactly is she, and why are you really choosing to go on this mission? Don’t expect me to believe that it’s purely because of duty.”

This one can be annoyingly astute at times. She’s right about it being partly due to your duty to the old man. There’s always the issue of him being your financier. But…you couldn’t pass on the opportunity to finally see magic in person. You can hold out on revealing that Elewyn is an Elin by dangling that motivation in front of her. Forcing her to take her time to-

She effortlessly snaps her fingers quite loudly and suddenly. “Oh! You’re chasing after magic again, aren’t you?”

Damn it all.
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She sighs and shakes her head. “It’s a charming quirk, Luca, but don’t you think it’s time to grow out of that, and attend to your noblesse oblige? You could do well for yourself, a handsome lad can easily marry above his station.”

Your hand finds its way to your forehead. “There are several things to pick apart there, so I’ll spare the clever retorts for now. It’s not a quirk, I’m hardly a noble, and you’re one to talk. Last gossip I heard about you hinted that you’re a candidate for the prince himself.”

Seo makes a disgusted expression. “Spare me.” Her expression lightens as she receives her dessert, and she leans in close to avoid being overheard. “No candidate will ever outcompete a well-polished mirror if you ask me.” She leans back and smiles at you before starting on her second dessert.

You eye the new dessert to perhaps gauge its cost, but are stricken by its unusual composition. A crimson red edible flower perfectly suspended in a chilled dome of semi translucent pudding. Sugar crystals floating in the membrane give the impression of falling snow.

Seo's spoon pierces into the dessert structure bleeding the flower's juice into the surroundings. “Well, I suppose we’re both shirking our noble duties yet again.” She looks back to the map on the table. “So let us do so wholeheartedly as we ought to... Impel huh?” She traces the path with her slender finger. “How long would we be there and what exactly would we be doing?”

You shrug a shoulder. “How long depends on how smoothly her investigation goes. It sounded like we should expect to be there for a few days at least. For what…The old man told me that I would be protecting her and assisting her with whatever she desires.” You mumble out the last few words.

“Oh? Whatever she desires? How far are you willing to go for your desperate search for magic?” A devious look flashes on her face but is poorly maintained due to your stoic response. “Oh fine…But protect huh? Coming from your grandfather, that means we should expect actual danger.” She begins to smile excitedly.

“That could mean a million things, knowing him. He said very little on this matter, but he did say to pack warm.” You tap your finger on the eastern sea depicted on the map. “The winters there must be harsher because of the proximity to the sea.”

“Oh, I usually venture south for winter holidays, but embracing the cold certainly has its charm too.” Seo casually turns her attention to finishing her second dessert. “I’m romanticizing as much as I can in case this backwater proves as dull as it sounds. But, if nothing else a winter rendezvous with the Yinefall heir will make for a juicy story at the spring banquets.” She gulps down the last piece. “I’ll go with you.” She extends her hand.

Now if only she could have said yes without this whole song and dance.

You shake your head and her hand. “Appreciated, Seo.”

You try to pull your arm away, but she keeps you in her grasp. Her forceful gaze meets your own. “You know, Luca. Even if the stories about the ancient heroes and monsters were true, they’re not around anymore. What good comes from trying to chase after something that’s not here anymore?”

Ah, she's attempting to be delicate about that subject again... She's always attributed your parents' interest in magic to your own. More so, she thinks a means to stay connected to something "that's not here anymore..." Regardless, you have no interest in discussing that further.

>Divert the topic.

>Inform her that she'll have her answer once the mission begins.

>Write in.
>Ask me after you see it for yourself. The world might be a bigger place than us nobles could ever imagine.
>>>Inform her that she'll have her answer once the mission begins.
>Divert the topic.
So, has Elewyn been going by the same name for her whole existence, I wonder?
Heyo everyone, I hope all of you are having a relaxing Sunday wherever you are. I'm quite fan of a lazy Sunday given how the rest of my week typically goes.

Good question. For now I will answer that she goes by Elewyn most of the time.

Telling her to widen her perspective and she may someday have her answer.


You meet her gaze. “Why don’t you hold onto that question until after we see for ourselves. This world is a bigger place than the circles we’re kept to.”

Her grip loosens, allowing you to free yourself. “A parried response is an unsatisfying, but as you wish, Luca. It seems like I’m not the only one romanticizing this trip.” She shrugs and raises her hands. “I suppose we could entertain ourselves with traditional winter activities, if it does prove to be dull.”

It never mattered to you what she thought about your pursuit. This will at least get her off your back. For now, you notice the manager of the establishment approaching the two of you, which you signal to Seo.

“Damn it.” She whispers quietly.

The manager gives a deep bow before speaking toward Seo only. “Lady Shulein! We’re honored to have you dine in our salon. Was everything to your liking?”

“Thank you.” She responds curtly. “Everything was lovely. My credit to the chef for seabass, and to the patisserie for the desserts.” She gathers her coat and motions that she intends to leave soon.

“O-only the best here!” The manager hastens his words. “That particular fish was difficult to secure but here at-“

“Well done securing it then.” Seo motions to herself and you. “We appreciated the dish.”

“Ah.” The manager gives you a decent bow. “We’re glad for you to join us as well, Master…”

“Yinefall.” Seo quickly responds, still trying to leave.

“Y-Yinefall.” The manager repeats, subtly disappointed.

You impatiently wave him off. “I don’t blame you for not knowing it.” You continue despite his attempts to apologize for the slight and point at the last plate that Seo cleared. “This dessert with the translucent cream and the flower was quite peculiar. Your patisserie came up with it?”

This certainly isn’t the subject the manager was working toward, but he tensely obliges. “That dish…Yes, now I recall. It seems that was a creation of the previous owners. One of the very few items worth keeping-“

Seo cuts him off. “The previous owner came up with that dessert? Well, I split my previous credit toward them too.”

The manager shakes his head fervently. “They may have created the item, but we refined it to be worth serving. Note the delicate garnishes on the side. It’s not only the dessert, but this whole establishment! Thanks to the Citizen Privilege Act we were able to finally acquire this place from the non-humans and transform it to the status suitable for those of your stratum. Ah, my deepest appreciation to your father for spearheading the act.” He bows to Seo once again.

“Hmm, I seem to remember him droning on about it at dinner.” She shrugs clearly not interested in the act itself. “But that was passed quite recently, wasn’t it? You must’ve had your eye on this place to pounce in so suddenly.”

You snort a quiet laugh to yourself. He’s poorly equipped to deal with her barbs.

His skin grows increasingly flush. “W-w-we identified the potential of this area quite some time ago, yes. In fact, for years we made generous offerings, but they weren’t interested in the coin, nor were they ever going to age out of the business any time soon.”

Seo’s eyes light up for the first time since the manager approached. “Oh? What sorts of non-humans were you dealing with that weren’t going to age out any time soon?” She flashes a devious grin toward you.

The manager rubs his sweaty forehead. “I uh…Think they were Elin or something of the manner. I’ve certainly never been one to associate with non-humans so I can’t say confidently.”

Damn. Quicker than you expected but forcing her to deduce the answer like this only serves to make her more intrigued. The next favor you need from her should be easier to leverage…

“Oh, I see...” Her grin twists into a self-satisfied smile. “Well, thank you for answering our questions. We’ll be going now, so Luca here will take care of the charges.” She heads for the exit.

“L-Lady Shulein, if you would be so kind to send our regards to your father and-“ The manager calls out feebly.

“Yes, yes.” She waves him off without even bothering to turn around. “I’ll let him know about the seabass.”

You grab your own coat and quickly fill out the bill of exchange, which you slip into the manager’s front pocket. “Cheer up. I’d say that was the best exchange you could have hoped for with her.”

You slip on your long coat and head out into the brisk afternoon air.
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Other than the chilled wind, winter has made itself known here with the distinct trails of fogged air that rise out of high smokestacks and can be seen filtering out the mouths and noses of the city folk. Your gaze lingers on a group of lively children attempting to outdo each other with fogged breath. All these small individual clouds rise together to form shapeless mists that can envelop entire districts. When you were a young boy, you recall your mother telling you they were dragon breath when you asked about them…

You nearly stumble on a sleeping dirty figure on the ground as you turn to look ahead. A young vagrant man curled into a tight ball with scattering of cloths underneath him as he lies half in an alleyway and half out. A worn and unfamiliar helmet seems to be his only other possession. He slowly rouses and looks up at you with a gaunt and incredibly weary face.

You’re surprised that he chose to linger in this part of the market district. Part of you suspects that he’s not from Velika, otherwise he’d know that the city guard will be more than forceful to remove him from here.

You feel a handful of silver coin in your coat pocket. All of your purchases in the city are done via bills of exchange, so who knows how long they’ve been in there.

Seo impatiently turns back to see what’s causing you delay and stares intrigued at the situation you find yourself in currently and how you will act.

>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, but keep the coins.

>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.

>Write in.
>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
I wouldn't want to rely on pocket change to fund whatever mission we're about to get up to, and bills means that bribes aren't gonna be too common.
>>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, but keep the coins.
>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
A couple of young noble scions, at least one of whose family helped pass acts to kick out successful Elin business ventures. Well, if you want change, start with the young ones, I guess.
>>Warn the vagrant about lingering here and the city guard, and give him the coins as well.
Heyo everyone, I hope the start to everyone's week is going well. Looking ahead, I will be enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, so I might not have an update on Thursday, but that's still on the fence depending on how I feel then.

For now:
No qualms about the alms.

Whoops, forgot this restarted this weekend. Glad to have you back, GM !
Glad to be back! We're still early on in this chapter, so I'm very excited to develop the story with all of you
Finally back home from work. I estimate that the update will go up around the same time as yesterday.

>Still writing!

Given his rough shape, the advice alone will only do so much. Strange and mixed feelings course through your mind as you grasp at the coins. Part of you wants to help him, thinking on what could potentially be his fate if you don’t. Another part of you wants him far removed from your haunts, and a few coins is a simple way to smooth the process. The thoughts are at odd with one another and are incapable of combining in any satisfying way. You finally fish out the coins from your coat pocket just as he’s about to turn back to lying on the ground. His dull eyes brighten slightly in surprise as you lean over to hand him the coins.

“Here.” You firmly place the coin in the vagabond’s weak grasp. “But you shouldn’t linger around this district. The guards have violently made an example of many in the past, and as you can see, no one else is chancing getting caught.”

He looks around at the surrounding streets as if for the first time before blankly looking back to you. After processing your words anger forms on his face. “Ahh. I just fuckin’ got here.” Suddenly he springs to his feet mumbling a string of vitriol under his breath, of which you only catch a few. “Goddamn…lost my guard job because of some little witch. Now I run around here and have to freeze my dick off…”

While still rambling, he gathers his rags, then his helmet, and stomps away without hardly acknowledging you.

“You’re welcome.” You close your hand and sigh as you watch him head off down the alley.

Little witch? Best not try to dissect what could be nothing more than nonsense. There’s still the matter of recruiting the final member for this mission, which would be much easier if Seo wasn’t needed as well. There isn’t anyone you know better suited for what Elewyn requested, but nobles can be quite obstinate when it comes to their feuds.

“You have a strange taste for entertainment, Luca.” Seo laughs as she calls out to you.

“Well, I don’t pay for my interactions unlike some people.” You button your coat as you catch up to her.
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“Oh? What about that meal you just paid for?” She points at you and grins as both head off down the street. “Everything costs, Luca. Never forget that. But the things you choose to buy are so amusing to me.” She customarily sticks out her elbow. “The things that don’t cost you much more than a few coins, the things that cost you far more, and everything in between. Amusing.”

“Now who has a strange taste for entertainment?” You cheekily return the smile and link your arm around hers. You lead her off toward the next destination.

The two of you stroll quietly from the commercial district toward the aristocratic residences.

You still contemplate the best approach to getting her to cooperate with the final companion. You deduce that it would be best if she were the one to puzzle it together rather than you simply revealing it to her. She's more suggestible when she believes she's outsmarted you. However, it's best not to overdo it. As imperceptibly as you can, you slow your gait.

After some more time, she notices and sighs. “By the difference in your usual pace, I take it that you’re not escorting me straight home, are you?” Seo asks without looking away from the path ahead of her. “It’s slower, so you’re hesitant.”

“Could you please apply that insight to something else other than scrutinizing my every action.” You make sure to keep your eyes fixed ahead of you as well. “Even if I were walking slower, there’s so many unintentional factors that could have contributed to that.”

The guards at the entrance of the noble district bow deeply as the two of you proceed through the gates. As usual, they do so a good bit deeper than when you’re alone.

The white stone gatehouse gives way to the usual view the noble estates near this entrance. The comparatively humbler buildings still rise high above the street, immaculately polished and ornately crafted. Even the expertly laid road beneath the footfalls and coaches is spotless and well kept. The noise and dirt of the rest of the world never seems to find its way within here to mix and stain. It only gets more ostentatious the further within the district you travel.
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Once you’re clear of the guards she resumes her deduction. “Yet, we’re still headed here, so that means…” She glares at you now. “Who is it that’s coming with us?”

As soon as she finds out, she likely to yell your ear off, and the destination is still much further down the path.

You don’t have time to address her question before the two of you spot a slender figure gracefully walking toward you and Seo. Adorned in the custom-tailored maid uniform of the Shulein household, a young woman carries the dress with all the elegance that could ever be demanded of her and more. The wide billows paired the with tightly form-fitting key areas synthesize to give an always refreshing air of femininity.

At least you think so, especially juxtaposed with her lady.

“My lady.” She bows seamlessly even with her wide dress. She turns toward your direction but keeps her glance fixed on the ground. “M-m-master Yinefall.” She bows just as low as before.

“Astrid.” Seo responds flatly crossing her arms. “Did father send you?”

“Lord Shulein only requested that I check on you, my lady.” Astrid gives another long bow. "Of course, I was happy to have the opportunity to see you."

"It's good to see you, Astrid." You walk closer to as she always has the habit of talking quietly and toward the ground when addressing you for some strange reason.

Other than that habit of hers, she's perfectly courteous. The only explanation you've managed to come up with is that she always dutifully chooses to show more respect to her lady.

"Ah. Yes! I mean, thank you!" She gives several quick bows. "No, I mean, will you be joining us for dinner again, Master Y-Yinefall? I could prepare any dish you'd like. If you'd like me to." She waves the idea away with her hand. "No, I mean, if you'd like to. Wait! It's good to see you again too..." She hangs her head low.

Seo moves to join the two of you and starts to push Astrid away. "We just ate so you can save it."

"T-then shall I accompany you?" Astrid gracefully spins out of the way and returns to her spot a few feet in front of you. "If M-Master Yinefall doesn't mind, of course."

Seo crosses her arms and glares at you while she observes your response.

You've always quite enjoyed Astrid's company, as limited as your time has been with her. Seo is always finding a reason to send her off, so you've rarely had the chance to talk. Her antagonism toward her maid has always perplexed you, as Astrid is remarkably well suited to her position. That's not even mentioning how well the dress suits her. Damn, you wish you had her as a maid.

All that considered, it still might not be a good idea to anger Seo. Taking her to the noble household the Shulein family has quarreled with for generations will do that just fine. Still...damn you wish you had a maid.

>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?

>Allow Astrid to accompany you.

>Write in.
>>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?
>Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?
Wonder how many more ladies Luca's got

>Allow Astrid to accompany you.
possibly better for Seo to not look like they're sneaking to her family's enemy.
>>Allow Astrid to accompany you.
Quests are like tasks given to people and are not forced.
Heyo everyone, it's a busy one here, but I hope all your days are going well!

It seems that we're currently at a tie, but I'm not going to be able to start writing for at least a couple hours, so I'll keep the vote open in the meantime. The vote will go to a roll if it stays tied.

Sorry, but I'm not sure what you're referring to.
Rolled 2 (1d2)

Breaking the tie with a roll:

"Tell Astrid that the two of you are unfortunately on private business. Perhaps some other time?" = 1
"Allow Astrid to accompany you." = 2

Rolling 1d2

>Writing the result
I'm back home, but I've also been feeling rather beat these days. I'm going to take a nap then get to writing. I'll nap only few hours, so I think I'll be able to get the update out around the same time as the past few days.
And...I knocked out.

Very sorry that I didn't get the update posted earlier. I'll be working it on it before I head off for work, and I will do my best to have it posted in about an hour and a half, since it's shaping up to be a longer than average update.

Thinking purely and perfectly logical, it makes sense to bring Astrid along. If Seo were to be seen speaking with a member of the Halion family, it will surely send rumors flying. But with a conspicuous servant accompanying her, a more business-like excuse could be reasoned. You wonder if you'll get that far...

You lean forward to catch her eyes, and for a moment glace at her serene brown eyes, that are almost at odds with her body language. “We would be very glad to have you accompany us. It’s been far too long since we’ve last spoken, so let’s take the opportunity to chat.”

Alright, now you only need to continue to spin this situation in your favor. Seo may be upset with you for bringing Astrid along, but…it might serve to distract her from immediately realizing where you’re going. It’s better that she deduces the answer when you’re closer to your destination.

You straighten out and turn back to look at the daggers that were digging into the back of your head. “Hope you don’t mind.” You motion for all three of you to continue down the main path of the noble’s district.

With Astrid in the middle, the three of you continue along the main path of the district. Despite the tension, you’re still able to enjoy the stroll with Astrid so close by.

Once more pleasantries have been exchanged between you and Astrid, you try to steer the conversation away from the obvious question. “Are you not cold only wearing your uniform, Astrid? I could lend you my coat, if you’d like.”

Astrid smiles slightly and pauses before she responds. “I-it would be f-far too great a privilege for me, so I must insist that you keep yourself warm, M-Master Yinefall. My uniform a-and the warm pride I feel when representing the Shulein household are more than enough for any winter.”

“Admirable. I’ll keep the offer open for when you’re not in uniform.” You pat the chest of your coat.

Keep this little performance going.

Seo scoffs instantly. “Is this how idiots keep warm in the winter? With platitudes of hot air?” She crosses her arms. “Maybe the common folk can learn a thing from you two about how to better endure the winter."

Astrid remains fixed in place for a few moments of heavier silence. “Not quite, my lady. Exchanging words like this with you two serves to brighten my winter. That paired with the honor to serve your family is how I as a common folk learned to survive the dark and cold. It's also how I learned to avoid the true gnawing sting of winter.” She turns to Seo. “I’m very thankful to you and your father, my lady.”

“You didn’t have to mention that, but I suppose that I should have chosen my words better…” Seo waves the topic away with one quick flick of her hand. “Never mind that. Since you’re here it means that father deigned to think about me… Did he go out on another meeting to discuss ridiculous betrothals?”

There is only one family that Lord Shulein would be the one traveling to meet the other party. The royal family.

“You certainly are his daughter, my lady.” Astrid chuckles softly. “My lord departed shortly before I came to find you.”

“That’s three times this month. He’s planning something with the King, and it’s something he doesn’t feel a message would suffice for.” She turns a steely glance at you. “Plotters on all sides...”

She's definitely not one to talk.

“Not the King, my lady. My lord is meeting with the Prince at the royal estate.” Astrid firmly adds.

With a long stream of fogged breath, Seo blows a strand of hair of her face. “This only creates more questions. Typical of him to attempt to keep the future heir of his house in the dark about all of this.”

You keep an eye on the road ahead and see that you’re nearing your destination. “He wouldn’t go to the Prince himself to discuss your betrothal, so thinking about what circles they share may bear fruit. The Prince serves as the minister of defense while your father serves as the minister of infrastructure. Since your father has never been one for idle chatter, it’s likely that they’re meeting with regards to their roles as ministers.”

“Oh? Here I thought the only reason you were going to open your mouth was to pant over Astrid some more.” Seo sighs and idly rubs her chin. “But what you say has merit. If only I paid more attention to him when he rambled on, I might’ve been able to piece this together already.”

“My lord did have me retrieve documents he had on the sewer systems beneath Velika in preparation for his meeting, my lady.” Astrid chimes in again.

“The sewers? Surely he has deputies that take care of those monster infested filth holes.” Seo turns to her maid in with an expression of suspicion. “Why are you divulging this information?”

“Because you had wondered, my lady, and my lord didn’t request that I keep the information secret from you.” Astrid responds without any hesitation.

Seo frowns. “Then there are things that you keep secret from me.”

Astrid rests her hand on her chest and closes her eyes. “A maid has many responsibilities, my lady.”

You feel her eyes settle on you for only a moment before they turn away.
“Father is fortunate that I’m preoccupied at the moment.” Seo notices that you’ve branched off the terminus of the main path through the noble’s district. “To which I had thought we were meeting someone, but you brought us nearly home.”

You’ve managed to keep her preoccupied until this point, somehow. Now all that remains is for Seo to finally find the answer.

She stares down the diverging path leading toward the Halion manor. After a moment she shakes her head and scoffs. “You have to be joking.”

“What do you mean?” You avert your gaze down the same path for a fraction of a second before looking back to her.

Seo glares at you with mouth slightly agape. “Mishenne? Mishenne Halion?” She laughs quite hard before turning her attention back to you. “Are you an absolute fool? Why would you pick the two of us of all people?”

“The mission requires someone that can disarm traps and get around locks. Misha always liked to tinker with those sorts of things, and I don’t know anyone else that could fill that role…” You cross your arms. “You know he’s no good in a fight, and I wanted people I trust. That’s why I also need your help…”

The two of you pause for a moment as you detect a figure walking from the Halion residence. At first glance it appeared to be a young girl in royal guard uniform until you spotted the animal ears that rest on the top of her head. You’ve heard chatter about the Elin trainee for the Princess, but this is the first time you’ve seen her.

What was she doing at the Halion manor?

“H-hello!” She stops to give a polite bow as she passes by and then nervously walks away.

You give a quick nod, Seo only observes her, and Astrid gives a bow in return.

You and Seo exchange glances as you ponder why the Elin was there in first place.

She sighs and shakes her head. “Strange plots are going on here. Plots of which I’m quite interested in, yet you’re asking that I go with you and Mishenne Halion to a backwater fishing town?” She tosses up her hands and laughs. “You've managed to get me this far, but fair warning, my father would be livid if he knew this was happening, so I hope you’re willing to take responsibility...” She observes your face you a moment longer before speaking again. “Not a single word of this to my father, Astrid. Where is Mishenne, Luca?"

The time you had agreed to meet with him here is quickly passing. He may be running late, but it's quite unlike him to do so, unless he got tied up somehow.

>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.

>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.

>Head in by yourself to retrieve him.

>Write in.
>>Head in by yourself to retrieve him.
>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.
If this priestess is one of the dark elin, both sides would be getting information.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
>>Catch up to the Elin that you saw earlier and ask about Misha.
I think that's Aloé.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
No, that's Aloé.
How much time has passed since the raid on the slavers, months? Years?

okay I'm kidding, but does that mean the question is whether we want Aloe to be involved or not?
Heyo everyone, just a quick check in before I head out for work. It's great to see so many votes in already. We'll keep it open for a couple more hours and I'll be around to answer any questions in the meantime.

It has been approximately 3 months since the raid with the slavers.

Truthfully the involvement would be limited in scope, but that is still definitely a consideration.
>>Continue to wait for him where you originally planned.
Honestly I’m kinda thinking that we don’t want her around this time. She’s doing good in her own way, and maybe we can get a better first impression of Elin from what Elewyn rather than Aloe
Quick tally so I can start chipping away at the update.

We'll stay put and wait for Misha where we originally planned.

Back home now, but I didn't get as much writing done at work because of how hectic it was to wrap things up before thanksgiving. I'll try to have the update up in a few hours!
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If you head into Halion court and Misha isn’t present within, then you’d run the risk of missing him here if he did show. Also, if he came by only to spot Seo without you there, you doubt he’d have the courage to even approach. Asking that Elin for information is another option, but she didn’t seem too inclined to speak to group of human nobles, not to mention she has her own sphere of concerns.

Best choice is to wait. The quickly setting sun filtering though misty winter air casts sheets of deep orange light over the regal buildings. Even with the chilled air, they give the district a warm glow you've enjoyed since you were a child.

You calmly glance around at the peaceful surroundings before turning back to Seo. “I know it’s not in your nature to be the one waiting, but we’ll have to do just that.” You place your hands in your coat pockets. “Anyway, I thought you didn’t pay any attention to your father’s anger.”

She places her hand on her chest. “The warning was for your sake, Luca. If he did something to cause you harm, I would make him regret it, but you’d still be left to deal with the consequences.”

Your interactions with her father are limited despite how long you’ve been friends with Seo. Stilted, cold, and straight to the point are how all conversations you’ve had with Lord Shulein have gone. But he was never cruel, and he also made a point to ask about your grandfather on every occasion.

On the other hand, even with the few times you’ve met him in person, his zealous disdain for the Halion family’s continued threats to his power are well known. His rumored plots to secure supremacy for the Shulein family are similarly well known. Despite all you’ve heard of him and his machinations, he’s never given you reason to be afraid of him, rather you’ve always had a measure of respect for his devotion to his family’s legacy, even with his troubled relationship with his only living family.

You rest a hand on her shoulder. “I’m thankful for your concern, Seo. However, my position on the fringes of nobility often make it more effort than it’s worth to pursue hostilities. Perhaps it’s me being too optimistic, but I don’t see this registering as one of your father’s concerns.”
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She scoffs and steps away from your hand. “Everything that happens in this city is his concern, and here you are fawning over one of his pairs of eyes!” Seo motions at Astrid as she glares at you.

Now that’s a visual association you hope never sticks.

You move toward Seo as you speak. “I’m aware of her role, but we’re not plotting against your father. Astrid is here to serve you just as much as she serves you father, so stop seeing her as only an extension of your father.” You boldly return her glare as loom over her.

“To have my lady, and M-Master Yinefall know me so well.” Astrid cups her cheeks with her hands. “I’m grateful with all that I am. But…I believe that Master Halion has arrived to join us.”

You and Seo turn at the same moment to gaze at the small figure that managed to approach with only being noticed by Astrid.

With long hair even more disheveled than usual, Misha stands meekly with his eyeglasses broken in his hand, and a thin trail of blood leaking out from his lip. A swelling red cheek is paired with the open cut.

“H-Hey Luca. Sorry I’m late.” He sniffles with one eye reddened from a blow. “I uh, was just telling my dad that I was planning to be gone for a few days, and umm got held up-“

Misha is interrupted by Astrid dabbing away the crimson fluid from his chin and lip with her handkerchief. Once cleaned, she holds the cloth over the cut and brings Misha’s hand to hold it in place.

While Astrid attends to Misha, you and Seo exchange a glance indicating that you both know exactly what happened to Misha. Not that it would take much deduction.
No matter how well he treated his fellow nobles, the commoners, and even you, you've always detested the man for how he treats Misha.

He blushes as he squints at Astrid. “Um, thank you. Are you a new maid of Luca’s?”

“If only I could be so lucky, Master Halion.” She bows to Misha before smiling at Seo. ”Perhaps one day, my lady?”

Seo scoffs and Misha jumps back in fright dropping the handkerchief and glasses.

He turns toward Seo’s direction with his hands up as if to nervously block an attack. “Um, uh, uh!” He slinks to hid behind your frame and tugs hard on the back of your coat. “You never told me that she’d be coming.”

You pluck him off your back and set him down in front of Seo. It’s hard to believe sometimes that he’s the same age as the two of you.

You bend down to pick up what he dropped. “You never asked, Misha.” You place the objects back in his hands. “You were excited to go otherwise. Introduce yourself and let’s go talk it out somewhere, I don't want anyone around here thinking I did this to you.”

“Hello, Mishenne. You’re looking…………” Seo searches for the next words for a noticeably long time. “Lively this winter.”

Misha fidgets as he feebly tries to resist you holding him in place. "Umm hi, Seo. It's good to... see you again." He glares back at you. "Fine, we can talk, just let me go already, you ass!"

You relent and Misha returns to positioning your body between him and Seo. Now that the three of you are finally together, you can discuss the business of mission departure. But where to head?

>Stick to the noble district, there's a few close by salons to have a discussion.

>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.

>Head to the guild hall. It's a good place to have a drink far removed from stuffy nobles.

>Write in
>”Perhaps one day, my lady?”
did she just....pfhahaha

Let's pick a place that's not too particular about nobles being seen with other nobles. The markets can potentially have famous dishes that hostile nobles would go out of their way to get.
>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.

Luca is really a harem protag, huh?
>>>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.
>>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission.
Misha seems like he wouldn't enjoy a rowdy atmosphere like a guild hall the way Seo would, but the noble district is too close by to risk someone seeing a Halion and a Shulein together
>Head back to the market district for a better selection of cafe and pubs, and perhaps purchasing extra items for the mission
Rundown on what we’re expecting, and places to buy things that will be needed. Then, hopefully we can get out of town fast enough that they all don’t need to deal with the rumor mill cycling until they return
A sound reasoning. Supporting.
Heyo everyone. Happy thanksgiving to all those that celebrate it, and an enjoyable transition into the holiday season for everyone. I'm thankful to have an audience for my story, and being in a place physically and mentally to be free to write in general.

I'm being kept busy here entertaining a small group, so that means that I likely won't be able to upload a post to entertain this group of people today. Updates will resume tomorrow!

We have a good number of votes already, so let me tally that while I'm here.


Unanimous decision to head to the market district and find a more quiet and unassuming place to plan for the upcoming mission.

Sorry that it's been a bit more time between updates than usual, but update coming in about an hour and a half!

Getting out of the noble district for a bit of privacy would be helpful given who you’re bringing with you. To that end, the guild hall would be a good bet, as who your lineage is valued comparatively little there. However, it’s bound to be rather busy and loud as the night approaches, not the best place to bring Misha. Best to find a compromise.

You smirk at the two heirs. “Stellar introductions, you two. Now let’s go somewhere where the air is a little less heavy. Somewhere in the market district would be good.”

You start toward the main path to return to the gatehouse but notice all three of your companions are rooted to the spot. Misha and Seo hesitantly eye the paths back to their family homes. Even if they both agreed to head off with you, and deep down want to go with you, they have a deep-seated aversion to being in each other’s presence any longer than necessary.

Astrid gives you a deep bow. “I-I’m afraid that I must pass on your generous offer, M-Master Yinefall, as it’s time for me to return to the manor. B-but I look forward to the day I meet you and Master Halion again.”

“I’ll make it up to you.” You give a casual nod in return. “Next time you have free time, it’ll be my treat.”

“I-it would’ve been nice for you to come with us.” Misha nervously glances in Seo’s direction.

“Thank you, young masters.” She offers yet another bow. Then, with professional efficiency, she approaches Seo. “I will prepare for Lord Shulein’s return, but I will be ready to assist you when you return. Have a good evening, my lady. We look forward to seeing you again.”

Seo is lost in thought for a few moments before responding. “Hmm? Oh, yes. Only remember, not a single word of this to father.”

Keeping unusually quiet, Seo catches up with you. Once Misha works up the courage to follow as well, you lead your group out of the placid district.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Astrid bows until all three of you are out of sight.

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Once night falls, it’s so much better to be out of the noble district. The heavy quietness of it all is suffocatingly limiting, as if instead of a walkable and livable space, it becomes an ornate painting at night. A façade to be handled with care.

By contrast, the market district becomes its own living being at night. The warm lantern light flicker on the buildings, giving them a subtle sort of motion, as if they all beckon you to enter. The crowds and their unhurried and boisterous atmosphere sweep you along like a gently flowing river. Each diverging artery of this can transport you into stores, restaurants, and buildings for entertainment that serve as microcosms of blooming life. This district only seems to grow and grow, with the increasing trade and production of the kingdom in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity for all citizens.

You’re excited to share this with Seo and Misha, and especially Misha since he’s always holed up in his room tinkering with some mechanical creation of his. But you ought to ease him into this sort of thing. You decide on a café designed to have differing drink menus depending on the time of day. Being a bit off the main throughways, its atmosphere is more relaxed and tends to attract a classy but not classist sort of clientele.

The bartender gives you a nod of recognition as you enter, and resumes attending to his station. You bring your group to a small table near one of the hearths.

With calm conversations, the clinking of glasses, and the crackling of the wood in the hearth as the backdrop, the three of you remove your coats and settle into your conversation.

You lean back in your seat and let the hearth do its work. “I don’t think I’ve taken either of you here before, but relax, no one here is likely to recognize either you.”

Seo chimes up first as she settles into her seat. “Oh. It sounds as if you’ve taken others to this cozy spot. Care to share about your conquests, dear Luca?”

You clear your throat as you look around for a server. “Not particularly. Not to mention that we’re here to-“

“He tells me about them all the time.” Misha uncharacteristically chimes in. “T-the last one was named…Vivi or something of the like.”

“Oh? Last one?” Seo’s speaks with a hard edge to her voice. “While I was aware of your unrefined urges, I didn’t know that you bragged about them to Mishenne here. Perhaps there’s more reason to accepting this mission from Elewyn than you had shared?”

Misha raises an eyebrow. “Elewyn? Sounds foreign.”

“Try non-human.” Seo crosses her arms.

“Oh! Umm, I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing.” Misha averts his gaze.

Seo chuckles at his words. “Neither was I, but it seems like we’re learning a lot about our dear friend here.”

You hold up your hand to stop them. “I’m going to put a stop to that debauched rumor right now. Not that I’m not proud of you two for being able to converse, but if you two young scions don’t mind, I think it would be prudent to discuss our mission.”

Seo stares at you unmoved before turning to Misha. “Tell me more about this Vivi. Was she-“

“Service please!” You desperately interject.


The drinks are placed at your table along with a steaming hot meat pastry for the three of you to share. Though it hasn’t been too long since you last ate, the cold air certainly works up an appetite.

You take a long sip of your cocktail and let the stinging liquor pass into your body with a deep sigh as it warms your core. “We’re going to need horses.”

Seo sighs similarly and roughly places her mug back onto the table. “I forgot that Thistle passed away. He was always such a well-behaved lad.”

“He was my grandfather’s when he was younger, so he had a good, long life.” You raise your mug in the air before drinking again.

Seo removes a rather large segment of the pastry. “Then, I will have two procured for us. Mishenne can surely secure his own.”

Misha startles and looks up from his drink. “Umm…”

“Two will be sufficient.” You lightly push Misha’s drink closer to him. “It’s not going to bite, try some.”

Seo stares at you with a large piece of food in her mouth. “Ough cannd be serious.” She eventually swallows. “The horses will tire at different rates.”

She’s certainly relaxing because of her anonymity here.
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You motion to Misha who starts coughing from the sip he took. “He’s light so it won’t be much more strain for the horse. Anything from your father’s stable will certainly be strong enough to push through anyway.”

“Fine, fine.” She waves you off and roughly hands a cloth to the struggling Misha. “When’s our departure then?”

Tonight would be ideal, but you’ve already asked a lot of both of them.

“Dawn, tomorrow.” You respond seriously.

“T-that soon?” Misha finally recovers enough to ask.

You nod while you sip some more. “We’re expected soon. It’s a two or three day ride, and a rough one at that. Leaving earlier will help mitigate any delays we run into along the way.”

“Then enough food and supplies for the ride as well.” Seo sighs as she takes mental inventory of what she would need. "I'll send Astrid out later to purchase what's needed for the trek."

"You'll be needing your weapon and armor as well." You remind her before turning to Misha. "Bring your lockpicks and everything you'd need to disarm traps."

Misha nods excitedly. "Finally a chance to work in the field. But, I need to get these fixed before we go anywhere." He holds up the pieces of his eyeglasses.

"The lenses are still intact, so it shouldn't be too-"

The doors to the establishment open letting in an sharp chill. The noise that your ears have grown accustomed to stop suddenly as a presence is felt at the entrance. All eyes fall upon the figure that entered.

Standing far taller than any man, and far bulkier a heavily armored colossus looms tall even from a distance. His skin is thick and dark like studded leather culminating into a fearsome set of horns rising from his massive head. His heavy breaths steam as he pauses to observe everyone staring at him. Despite his personal morbid flourishes, he dawns the armor of the royal guard.

Belodrak. One of the Prince's personally chosen guards. An Aman if you recall the race correctly. You've never another of his kind besides him before, and you've only ever seen him at a handful of events. However, despite how little you know of the Aman, his brutal effectiveness in combat is legendary.

Misha and Seo instantly recognize the figure and do their best to not draw attention to themselves. Unfortunately, his keen eyes spot the three of you, and with steps that shake the surrounding tables and chairs, he lumbers over to you.

His voice is deep and resonates painfully in your bones. "Lady Shulein, Lord Halion, and..." He bows to the two of them before raising his head to stare at you.

"Luca." You reply firmly. "Just Luca."

"Belodrak." He grunts simply to you before turning his attention to the two nobles. "Most unusual to see you two together." He leans a hand on the table which groans desperately under the weight of his arm. "Might I share a drink to make the scene even more...unique?"

Seo flashes you a glance to signal that she wants nothing to do with him. He is the Prince's man after all, and the three of you are supposed to remain unseen. Inviting him to join you, would be to invite questions as well. Then again, not inviting him could do the same, if not spur worse speculation.

>Allow him to join for a drink.

>Politely refuse, stating that you're catching up with old friends.

>Write in.
>Allow him to join for a drink.
>Probe him about the elin candidate
Speculation is the worst bit here, but the longer this talk goes the more likely people will remember Seo and Misha together.
>Allow him to join for a drink
Don't really want to snub a 8-foot giant armored warrior who's a personal guard of the prince, but at the same time, the less time we spend making a scene, the better.

Then again, maybe he's an interesting character to talk to, and we can poke him as to what he's doing hanging out in full armor down here.

Worst comes to worst, we send Seo and Misha out the door with a meeting time, and bail to go shopping.

I wonder if he gets sluggish in cold weather, like a reptile. That much steel in a snowstorm? There's gotta be padding, but still.
>>Allow him to join for a drink
>>Allow him to join for a drink.
Heyo everyone, I hope that your weekends are off to a good start. It's been unseasonably warm here, but I'm not complaining because I'm sure the cold will catch up.

For a bit of setting background (from the game itself), the homeland of the Amani was in a snow-blasted very cold area. They also pride themselves on being hardy and tough individuals. So now regarding the quest: While Impel (mission destination) is going through a snowstorm, Velika is only going through cold weather. So Belodrak may be cold, but he's more than capable of enduring it. Good question!

Anyway, the choice seems locked in, but I'll leave the vote open for another hour or two in case there are any other vote/write ins.
Allowing Belodrak to join us for a drink, and ask him some questions.

There’s no way that you can rebuff the personal guard to the Prince without making a scene. That said, it would be best to keep your discussion as short to limit the chance of being noticed by any would be observers.

You flash a glance to Seo to express that you apologize in advance, and then turn to Belodrak. “By all means.” You motion widely toward the table. “We were here to catch up, but more company makes for better drinks.”

Belodrak lets out a grunt as a short laugh. He then pushes off the thick wood table, as it groans on verge of snapping. He pulls together two chairs and plants himself nearby Misha, who is entirely dwarfed by his mass. Even being bulkier than average, you’re sure he’s at least twice your weight.

With him sitting this close to the three of you, you feel intensely fortunate that he’s part of the same kingdom you belong to.

A server hastily approaches once he spots the Aman has settled into his seats. “Sir Belodrak, we appreciate your continued patronage. May we get you a drink?”

“Mulled wine.” He responds gruffly. “One will be sufficient. I still have business tonight.”

The server nods and retreats to safety and to convey the drink order.

Seo calmly resumes eating as if he weren’t there. If she’s nervous she’s certainly not betraying it. Misha, on the other hand, has locked up in silence. Internally you feel as though your stomach has dropped, but you can push through it.

He lets out a long sigh. “Work never ends.” He turns his gaze and directs his piercing eyes toward you. “Here to catch up, hmm? You’re friends with Lady Shulein and Lord Halion here, boy?”

You watch as he rests his forearm on the table, occupying nearly a whole quadrant with his bulky armor. “I’ve known both of them since I was a boy, yes.” You nod toward Seo. “Her for as long as I can remember.” You nod toward Misha. “Him since around the time we were eight years old or so. Right, Misha.”

Misha jumps as if touched suddenly with ice. “Y-Y-yes, I think so. S-Sound right.”

“Luca Yinefall.” Seo chimes in flatly. “To properly introduce him so that you don’t assume we make friends with commoners.”

Belodrak grunts in acknowledgment. “I figured as much. Your manner of carrying yourself doesn’t suggest one of common birth. I have an eye for such things, despite my less than common status...”

Then why are his eyes lurking about the market district at this time of the day?

“My grandfather insisted on lessons in poise. I suppose they had an effect despite my reluctance.” You shrug then point toward his armor. “On the note of carrying things, it must not be much of a break with your full armor on.”

Another snort of a laugh. “I’ve worn this for so many years that I often forget it’s there. I must admit that I have little need for it’s protective purposes, but it certainly emits an aura of poise.”

Clever. Do you call it poise we you look as if you could double for a battering ram?

His drink arrives and the mug looks like a child’s toy in his hand. He takes a long sip from his hot wine and sighs in satisfaction. “Poise is the aura I choose to emit. The way humans have always fearfully gawped at me have been my lessons in constantly being aware of how I carry myself. Not that fear doesn’t have its use, but at times it is a burden. Much like yourselves, for some reason… I’ve come to this less traveled spot to be out of the public eye.”

“Only to avoid unnecessary rumors or the like.” You pause as you take a deep drink from your mug, letting the liquor take the edge off your nerves. “The burden of nobility makes us painfully aware of how we carry ourselves as well.”

His lip curls in a half snarl, half smile. “Good. Not that I think you lot capable, but any potential plots would be reported to the Prince. Then, his judgement will be executed to the best of our ability, as we always have, as we always will. But, as Luca here says, it’s only friends catching up.” He turns his hard gaze at both Seo and Misha.

You can see Misha shake from across the table.

Seo places down her fork and knife. “Trust us, we’re well aware of the Prince’s capabilities, and we’ve all sworn fealty to the crown when we came of age. If you came over with here with an actual question, then get on with asking it. If not…” Seo stares him down, unintimidated.

He returns her gaze before finally turning it back to his wine. “My question has been answered already, Lady Shulein. Don’t worry.” He finishes the contents in one quick motion before turning back to the three of you. “I’ve taken up enough of your time. Plenty more tasks for the royal guard left tonight.”

You’re reminded of the Elin leaving the Halion residence and figure you could quickly probe him to learn more about what business a royal guard trainee would have there.

“Ah, that reminds me that you’re not the first royal guard member we’ve come across today.” You carefully watch him as he rises from his seats. “Well, not a full-fledged guard, but we came across the Elin trainee for the princess’s guard earlier in the day. Do you know her?”

He stops as if bitten by an insect and pauses before answering. “I’m aware that the Princess certainly is exercising her dominion over the standard caliber of the royal guard…I’ve heard word of that trainee many times. Supposedly a stubborn girl.”

“Oh?” Seo perks up, intrigued for the first time by Belodrak’s words. “Are you implying that the Princess has allowed an unsatisfactory candidate to train for her royal guard.”

He sighs and walks near the hearth with wood mug in hand. “Human nobles, the royal family especially, exercise their power as they see fit. I'm not trying to upset that. But us in the royal guard, we exercise our power as necessary to protect. Would the little Elin be brave enough to stop me if I chose to harm the Princess? Would she be strong enough? Or perhaps…”

With a single clench of his massive fist, he effortlessly shatters the mug in his hand, and grinds the shards into powder that are fed into the hearth.

“Curious that you saw her in the day when she should be training. What was she doing?” He asks, glaring at the three of you to observe your reactions.

Seo turns her focus back to you, signaling that the royal guard member has long overstayed his welcome. Misha's glance is firmly locked on his lap.

Time to get him out of here. Perhaps telling him the truth will get him out of here faster? However, though the trainee is a non-human, you have some reservations about foisting your current predicament entirely on her if she was up to something.

>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.

>Lie about where you spotted her, and attempt to get him to move on.

>Write in.
>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
She seemed in a hurry, gone long before we headed here.
>>>Lie about where you spotted her, and attempt to get him to move on.
>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
Well, we don’t know the Elin in question, so it’s an easy way to get Belo here off our back.
Heyo everyone, I hope that you're all enjoying your Sundays. I've been running some errands to help me transition better coming off the long weekend.

For now, I'll leave the vote open for another hour or so before tallying what we have.
>>Explain simply that you saw the Elin near the Halion residence in order to get Belodrak to leave.
yeah luca has no reason to try to lie for aloe, he's just curious
Getting him off our backs by answering honestly.


Belodrak doesn’t seem have anything else to share about her, so it’s best to be done with him so you can get on with why you three came here in the first place.

“We only exchanged passing greetings, so all we could garner was that she had some business at the Halion residence.” You respond curtly, but honestly. “Misha’s eyeglasses are broken right now, so I doubt he saw much anyway.”

Misha nods solemnly in agreement.

“Then the Princess had business at the Halion residence…” He steps over to Misha and places his scaled hand on his shoulder, which spans from back to chest. “Don’t worry little Lord Halion, I’m not here to give your father trouble. I’m only keeping the Prince abreast on the matters of his future kingdom." He squeezes down lightly. "If you could help us do that, then I’m sure there will be an even loftier place for you and your father within his kingdom.” He removes his imposing hand from Misha’s body and then bows to all three of you. “Lady Shulein, Lord Halion, and Lord Yinefall, thank you for the company, and I bid you three a pleasant evening.”

The three of you watch him exit the establishment, in which the air seems to lighten significantly from his departure. You and Misha breathe sighs of relief while Seo only shakes her head.

“You dress up a dog, it will think it can eat at the table with the humans.” She comments bitterly. “However, him unintentionally barking about the discordance within the royal guard units was somewhat interesting. Especially if it portends to something grander in scale. Oh, and here’s your share of the pastry, you two.”

She slides two thin slices of what remains of an entire meat pie. You hardly noticed her eat the rest of it on her own.

“I’m just glad that he’s gone.” Misha brushes off the shoulder Belodrak had his hand on earlier. “I-it unsettles me to imagine creatures doing as they wish just because they have the authority of the royal family.”

You sigh aloud as you take your sliver of pie. “Even the pets of the royal family are privileged to social standing that can cause you two grief.”

Even with the Shulein and Halion family standing leagues above the rest of the nobility, the power that the royal family wields is in an entirely different realm.

You motion for the server to bring more food for you and Misha. “At least where we’re headed, you two won’t have to worry about being immediately recognized. On that note, where were we…”

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You came to this Devan worker barrack in hopes of finding some leads on the location of the supposed Sanctuary, but what you’ve come across instead has been nothing short of grotesque. Grotesque not only in the scene, but how easily it has been accepted by the Devan. You recall that the past gods that served as their masters warped and shaped them into a sub-class of slow-witted, subservient people with a desire to follow. They once reaved through this land following their dark master’s path of conquest. A contingent of them managed to settle the Velikan Wilds long ago. The humans that subsequently followed into this area have certainly exploited their descendants’ inborne traits to an extreme.

The howling wind seeping into the body of the building through numerous vessel-like cracks assault the afflicted with bitter cold and demoralizing persistence. Even from here and with the winter storm raging on outside, you can hear their pained and starved wails.

The humans of Impel have corralled the Devan with injuries or ailments into this barrack to weather the storm with little food, and little fuel for warmth.
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Ahh, every second of your brief respite brings so many of them one step closer to perishing, brings them one step closer to joining their brethren in the horrendous flesh pile of the fallen that stands in front of you. It was strangling in there, but the utter stillness and certainty to be found here is slightly comforting. What was once a rudimentary place of worship for them has been profaned with the necessity of storing their dead. Any sort of altar has been replaced with only a singular option to revere death itself, frozen out from the seeping cold. You spot yourself in the frozen crimson mirror spilled onto the ground all around you, tired looking, but still alive.

Are you to blame for this as well?

“Madam…” A voice calls out from behind you, snapping you back to reality. “The injured and the beds, they are ready. They are ready. Quickly.”

You push your hair back and straighten out your clothes. “Thank you, Nento. I’ll be there soon.”

“Unn” He hobbles away, eager to be away from the corpses of his kin.

There’s still work to be done. Work that only you can do. Work that you must do.

You finally step away from the preserved crypt, and return to the sleeping quarters of the barracks, with each step you take echoing endlessly in the ears of the fallen.

Helping those still clinging onto life through this storm will allow you to gather what the Devan know of the Sanctuary. A necessary measure, given the secrecy and its relatively recent appearance in this land. Those factors also lead you strongly suspect that it’s tied to the body with the mismatched head. Which could finally provide answers as to why Alys and many of your kin met the fate they have in Velika.

From a long dimly lit hallway with barely you emerge into the sleeping quarters, which out of necessity have been transformed into a makeshift clinic where you’re the only healer. Almost all sources of warmth have been concentrated into this fetid and blood-stained place. A few dozen Devan huddle on a smaller quantity of shoddy cots with thin bedcloths stained through with blood and sick. The wretched odor and disease looming in the air comes secondary to staying warm. Through the haze, several voices call out bemoaning their starvation, wrack their bodies with painful coughing fits, or cry out in fear for the seemingly impending end. Infecting it all, the cold. The vicious cold penetrating through innumerable cracks in the frosted windows.
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An unused nurse uniform you came across in town has given you a simple façade of authority to direct the very few relatively able-bodied Devan still standing, and to perform operations on those wretched individuals in need. But even Nento, the most ambulant walks with a significant limp and effort. But they continue to act as your assistants while this storm rages on.

“These the four, madam. Over here.” He waves you over to the four Devan with the greatest afflictions. Once you come over, he explains more about their injuries. “The foreman, this wench, and this child in the storage room from wind. The roof, it collapse and hurt them the most. Him.” He points at the remaining supine figure. “He was outside banging on the door. He was the one that always sneak us food. The cold. It mess him up good.”

A quick cursory glance at all of them informs you of their specific injuries. The foreman has a shard of wood of significant size impaled into his thigh. A thin trail of blood leaks from the wound. He seems stable and having the foreign object in his leg agitates his mood greatly. The woman, while less active, has taken a similar wound to her lower abdomen. To make matters much worse, she’s well along in carrying a child. The third patient is a child, unconscious and who bleeds from the ears and nose. Based on a swelling contusion you spot through his hair, you suspect that the roof collapse gave him a strong blow to the head. Finally, the one not involved in the roof collapse is suffering from a major case of gangrene from the tip of his left hand to his wrist. He sweats profusely and mumbles incoherent strings of words.

You've been balancing the medical practices that you learned over the years with your healing magic. The approach, while less effective for an individual patient than pouring the total necessary mana needed to heal them, allows you to treat more individuals, and in a way that obscures your magic from the Devan.

You take another glance at your patients as you try to decide who is need of treatment the soonest. Given that you're trying to ingratiate yourself with the Devan to extract information that they've not been willing to share before, you need to consider who they'd value most versus who would have the most information to share. Each patient will require significant time to treat.

Here you are now, and here are they. There’s no one else for them, so it's time to decide.

>Attend to the foreman's wounds first.

>Attend to the expectant mother's wounds first.

>Attend to the child's wounds first.

>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.

>Write in.
>>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.
I think this most immediately, as the acutely vital person. the foreman will survive but probably has a deal of sway. second probably the woman...? I feel the child too far gone if they're bleeding actively from the brain, but maybe magic or superior knowledge would contradict that.
>Attend to the food supplier's wounds first.
The foreman is the next most important, but I'm not really sure if they care for pregnant as much
>Attend to the foreman's wounds first.
Hey everyone, welcome back to the work week.

The holiday weekend was busier than I expected with personal stuff, but I was satisfied with the overall update amount. What I will try to course correct is getting the updates out at a more regular time. This will depend on how today goes, but I think the time that would provide the most consistency on my end would be later in the night ~11pm EST. Consistent update schedule is a lofty goal for me, but one that I'd like to continue to strive for. Let's see how it goes.

Regarding the vote, I'll leave it open for a few more hours and then tally the results then.
>>Attend to the child's wounds first.
The longer a brain injury goes untreated, the more catastrophic it becomes. The foreman and the woman seem like they can hold out for a little while longer before being attended to at least. Not sure about the gangrene.
Attending to the Devan with the gangrenous hand first.

Update in about 20 minutes!
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Medical considerations in mind, the severe condition of the Devan with rotting hand makes him a good first target. Him being the smuggler of food adds a high practical element to it as well, for more than the obvious reason of the starving individuals surrounding you. The food he can manage to sneak off with during such dire times of famine must be coming from somewhere, and that could be connected to the Sanctuary. Regardless of where it originated, you can take advantage of his lowered scruples to gain information.

You move towards his cot, in which he has already sweat a great amount of fluid into and urinated a deep yellow brown stain underneath his body. The simple act of you lightly lifting his hand for observation causes him to screech in pain.

“Why you help him first?! Woman and baby need help!”

“Shut it. He brings the food, they only eat.”

“What food? There’s nothing!”

“He sick too, idiot!”

A few of the Devan argue over your choice as many of the gawp and watch your actions.

“Hold him down, Nento.” You order calmly while you look over the discolored, stinking flesh.

“Yes, Madam.” He hobbles over and roughly pins the Devan’s shoulder into the cot. “You two, come help.” Nento urgently motions to two sick Devan nearby.

After painfully shambling the distance between their cot and you, they slam down on the Devan’s legs to restrain him entirely. Their breathing is heavy from the exertion, and under normal circumstances they’d be one’s receiving treatment, but these three are the most able bodied of the entire barracks.

The stench of the arm suggests an infection of the dead tissue. To know the full extent, you firmly peel back the greenish black gangrene away from the still living tissue to reveal blood-stained pus that drips from wound like melted cheese. For brief moments between the bubbling of discharge, corrupted strips of yellowed muscle bridge the gap between the living and the dead. At the base of the infection, the emanated heat signals that the body’s defenses are being pushed further and further back.

From this, you assess that the limb will need to be amputated below the wrist, and that any remaining tissue needs to be scraped clean of corruption. The wound will be sparged and washed with boiling water, then cauterized.

It will be painful.

Additionally, your limited and rusted tools will allow you to do little more than the crudest form of this vital surgery. That limitation paired with the extent of his gangrene makes his outlook poor without any magic usage, but not impossible. Him thrashing about, which he almost certainly will, only serves to make the whole procedure more difficult and time-consuming.


HP: 11
LP: 15
Stamina: 15
MP: 39

The amputation of the Devan's hand is a major procedure with the chance of death. Healing and sedating magic is available to you, but will consume mana, and continued usage will attract unwanted attention to your abilities. There are more three more patients needing attention.

>Perform the procedure without the use of any magic.

>Use magic during the procedure: Write in actions for Elewyn.
As this is a bit of a twist on the standard combat scenario, please feel free to ask any questions, and I'll do my best to clarify. I should be around for a few more hours.
Yeesh, yea no regrets on treating him first.

>Use magic during the procedure: Write in actions for Elewyn
Turn on the magic before the cauterizing, forming a cleaner stump with less surface area to burn or even bypassing the need to burn a seal.

Ah, my bad everyone, I should clarify that specific spell choices are needed. This is mainly so I don't make any false assumptions about the magic you would want to use. (Not that I would ever do it out of bad faith.) Also, so I can properly calculate the mana costs.


I'd be very appreciative if you could add the spells you'd want to use to accomplish this. My assumption is that you'd want to use healing light to clean up the wound before cauterization. (MP Cost: 6, by itself.)

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